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 October: Pastor Curtis Watts Chopped Off Deputy's Hand

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PostSubject: October: Pastor Curtis Watts Chopped Off Deputy's Hand   Fri May 14, 2010 1:42 am

Pastor Curtis Watts Chopped Off Deputy's Hand
October 01, 2009

The Rev. Curtis Watts, 48, pastor of the Shining Light Baptist Church in Clay County, Alabama, was shot and killed on Friday, September 25, 2009, at about 9:30 p.m. when deputies from the Clay County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team showed up at the cabin located on Saw Mill Road, where Watts resided, to arrest the minister on a domestic violence warrant signed by a relative. Deputies had been to his home earlier in the day to make the arrest, but Watts was not there when they arrived. They returned that evening, however, when a family member notified them that he had returned home. When the deputies arrived, they followed proper procedure by identifying themselves and making their presence known. Watts, who helped establish and build the church where he preached, attacked Sgt. Jason Freeman—who had been with the department for three years and led the team that had come to arrest the preacher—with a brush ax and chopped off Freeman's hand when he tried to serve the warrant, as well as a protection order also signed by a relative, and make the arrest. Another deputy who witnessed the incident shot and killed Watts.

The story of this tragedy actually began 10 days earlier, according to Clay County Sheriff Jean Alexander. On September 15, 2009, another group of deputies responded to the Watts home on a domestic violence call in which Watts allegedly greeted them with a high-powered rifle. One of the deputies used his taser on Watts in that incident and, with the help of other deputies subdued Watts and took him to jail. He was released a short time later after making bail.

"He was a good Christian man," a longtime friend said. "I have no idea, no clue…something happened to him, but I don't know what…I never knew him to act violent. He was always easy going…I never thought that this would happen. We don't understand these things sometimes."


The friend, heartbroken over the tragedy, said that he believed that Watts may have been mentally ill. The friend said that Watts also sang gospel music with his family, which called itself the Watts Family Singers. He also traveled to preach at other churches in the area that did not have a regular pastor.

Watts, a logger and sawmill operator, had become an ordained Baptist minister in 1988.

Sgt. Freeman, in the meantime, had been transferred immediately after the violent incident to a hospital in Birmingham where surgeons were able to reattach his hand during two operations. Afterward, Freeman was able to move some of his fingers, and a pulse was detected in all four fingers and his thumb.

"He is doing well, but a long-term prognosis is undetermined," a statement from the sheriff's office said earlier this week. Freeman's progress was expected to be slow as he attempted to regain the use of his hand, and it was not yet known how the violence committed against him might affect his future in law enforcement.
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