I was a bit stunned by the story I found online. Bizarre Crime of the Week posted about Pastor Curtis Watts Chopped Off Deputy's Hand. I dug a bit further, and WSFA had additional article and video on this story. Deputy's hand severed by axe was quoted as saying:
By Elizabeth White
CLAY COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A Clay County deputy is slowly trying to regain the use of his hand, after it was chopped off by an axe over the weekend.
Deputies say the man who swung the bush axe was local pastor, they were trying to arrest.
Sources tell WTVM News Leader 9, Curtis Watts is the man who severed a deputy's hand with a bush axe.
Investigators say it all happened when a Clay county, Alabama deputy tried to make an arrest. Another deputy stepped in and shot and killed the man, identified by viewers as Watts.
"I never knew him to act violence he was always easy going," said James Crawford, a family friend.
Longtime friend, James Crawford, says he's heartbroken. The man he knew, built a church near his home and traveled to pastor at several churches in Clay and Randolph County. In addition, the man he knew sang gospel music.
"He went and would go singing he pastured shinning lights church for two years they would call him on Sunday and he would go pastor at other churches he did not have a regular church," said Crawford.
Investigators said the deputies hand has been reattached and he has moved his fingers. Meanwhile,
Crawford believes Watts was mentally ill. Still, he can't believe his friends life ended in such a violent way.
"I have no idea no clue I know he was a good Christian man I never thought this would happen but we don't understand these things sometimes," he said.
Clay county investigators refused to comment on camera. However, they did email us this release.
News release from Sheriff Jean Alexander of Clay County:
On Friday, September. 25, 2009 at approx. 9:30 p.m. the Clay County Sheriffs Office Special Response Team traveled to a cabin located on Saw Mill Road occupied by Mr. Curtis Watts, 48 years old.
Sheriff Jean Alexander had deemed this to be a High Risk warrant due to a previous domestic violence call responded to by other Clay County deputies earlier in the month on Sept. 15, 2009.
Mr. Watts was armed with a high-powered rifle during that encounter. A deputy was required to deploy his taser, and with the assistance of other officers, was able to secure the arrest. Mr. Watts was released on bond.
On Friday, September 25th, a family member had signed a new warrant of arrest and obtained a Protection from Abuse Order earlier in the day. Mr. Watts was not at the location on the first attempt to serve the warrants; however, the family notified the team leader again later that evening of Watts return to the cabin.
The Special response Team went back to the location on Saw Mill Road. Upon arrival, the Special Response Team announced their presence and identified themselves.
As they approached the front doorway, Mr. Watts came out, armed with a bush axe, and began swinging this deadly instrument. He directed the attack towards Sgt. Jason Freeman, the team leader.
In an attempt to defend himself, Sgt. Freeman deployed his taser. Although effectively striking Mr. Watts with the taser, Watts continued his assault towards Sgt. Freeman. In the first set of swings, Watts severed Sgt. Freeman's right hand. Sgt. Freeman attempted to flee but Watts continued the attack, missing Sgt. Freeman with additional strikes. To protect the life of Sgt. Freeman, another member of the response team was forced to use deadly force against Mr. Watts.
Mr. Watts was pronounced dead at the scene.
Because of the fatality, in accordance with standard operating procedures, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was promptly notified and called to the scene. Any event involving a fatality and a member in law enforcement, an administrative inquiry is initiated and such is now pending.
Sgt. Freeman was air-lifted to a hospital in Birmingham. Sgt. Freeman underwent two surgeries where his hand was re-attached. He is doing well, but a long-term prognosis is undetermined. The Clay County Sheriff Office thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Freeman and his family, and with the family of Mr. Curtis Watts.
To me this man clearly had issues. I know in certain small southern towns they feel that justice needs to be kept within the community, and have issues with outside forces like the police in this case. Do I know if this is true with this case? No I don't.
The Pastor had signs like, "Enter at your risk! There are eyes watching YOU!" all around the property. The story really doesn't mention if there were other reasons like a crimes recently in the area as to WHY this pastor needed signs like this surrounding his home and property.
The close knit communities, "We do justice within" type of atmosphere would also be why signs like this would be there. You can imagine how explosive that can be if you have someone that is a bit more paranoid about the outside world than others.
If this man was truly mentally ill as the story claims? Its ashame his church didn't step up to help him. His actions clearly show a strong sense of entitlement. The restraining order he wasn't going to put up with, and he wasn't going to let the police let him arrest him due to him ignoring it either. There would be no protection from the abuse in this case.
Newspapers like to point the extreme cases like these, but its up to the communities to deal with things before they get this bad.
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