ANDERSON – Tony Watters said he was stunned when he opened an email from Anderson Mayor Tom Broderick on Tuesday morning and learned he would be removed as the city’s police chief Sunday.
“I am 1,000% loyal to Thomas Broderick Jr. as the chief because it has to be that way for total transparency and for positive movement in this community,” Watters said.
For months, Watters remained silent about the June 7 arrest of his son, APD officer Adam Watters, for domestic battery. And Chief Watters had not spoken in detail publicly about allegations by Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings that he was “very close” to being arrested himself by the Indiana State Police for his behavior during his son’s arrest.
Tony Watters had also said little about a June 14 complaint filed against him by a street singer.
On Tuesday, he addressed each allegation and said he had remained silent at the mayor’s request.
“I don’t really know what to say other than I feel like the scapegoat of this election,” he said. “That’s what I feel like.”
Broderick, a Democrat, is running for reelection in November. Cummings is a Republican.
Watters said Broderick sent the email at 11:15 p.m. Monday and, as of Tuesday afternoon, hadn’t requested to meet with him in person and hadn’t called him.
The chief said that allegations made by the state police that he acted unprofessionally when his son was arrested are completely false.
“I question the authenticity of this report,” he said of the three pages taken out of a 93-page report released by Cummings to city officials Friday. “I question why it has not been presented until now if it was such a big deal. ... I also know for a fact that the information is inaccurate and fabricated.”
About 4 a.m. June 7, Watters said, he was awakened by a call from his son.
Adam Watters told his mother he was upset about a situation with his girlfriend, and, Tony Watters said, his wife begged their son to come home.
Tony Watters said his son showed up later at his parents’ home.
“The whole right side of his face was bright red where he had been struck,” Tony Watters said.
He said his son had been drinking that night and told them he had argued with his girlfriend. Tony Watters said his son indicated “there had been some shoving” and the couple had argued.
Tony Watters stressed that he is always going to love his family unconditionally, but he would never condone illegal behavior. He said he has stood against such acts throughout his life and career.
During the next few hours, Adam Watters left the residence at least twice and Tony Watters fell asleep in a recliner, according to the police chief. He later woke up, he said, and drove toward a gas station.
On the way, Tony Watters said, he noticed a vehicle rapidly approaching his unmarked squad car. The vehicle pulled “head-on” into his lane, causing him to brake and pull over as the other vehicle stopped next to him, blocking him from leaving his car.
The man behind the wheel was wearing military tactical gear and picked up a police radio, the elder Watters said, adding that he heard the man say, “I got the dad.”
Tony Watters, who later said he was confused, unarmed and fearing a personal attack, asked the man who he was.
The man gave a last name and said he was with the state police, but he was not wearing a police uniform and the vehicle was unmarked, Tony Watters said. The trooper asked Watters to follow him to a nearby park, and then several unmarked vehicle surrounded his car, boxing him in as they escorted him to the park, the chief said.
At the park, Tony Watters spoke with a trooper, who asked whether Adam Watters was at his parents’ home. Tony Watters said he did not know whether his son was still there, but he would find out. He also assured the trooper he would cooperate, but he wanted to know why there were so many troopers present.
Tony Watters returned to his home to discover even more troopers surrounding it — many wearing tactical gear and carrying high-powered rifles.
“It was abuse of authority, if I have ever seen it,” Tony Watters said. “There were so many people I couldn’t even count them.”
Tony Watters said the troopers’ actions were “unbelievable.” He said not only would the troopers have arrested him if he had been out of line, he believes they would have shot him, given their behavior.
He said what was written in the report supplied by Cummings portrayed a twisted perspective of what really happened. Tony Watters said he was upset at the way the arrest was handled with troopers surrounding his home and at one point he did step close to talk with the trooper in charge. But that was just to ask who was responsible for the “overkill.”
He said he never referred to someone as a “goon.” He also said he never said — as Cummings alleged was written in the report — “You cowboys don’t have the right to be here,” and, “I run this (expletive) town.”
“I don’t talk that way,” Tony Watters said. “I just don’t.”
As a result of the June 7 incident, Adam Watters is on unpaid administrative leave. He is charged with felony residential entry, felony official misconduct, felony strangulation, felony criminal confinement and misdemeanor charges for domestic battery and interference with the reporting of a crime.
Chief Watters, meanwhile, said Tuesday that he was targeted politically after the incident with state police, as well as the incident that led to the street singer’s complaint against him.
When Watters saw the street singer, he knew he hadn’t signed a permit for him. He asked the singer for identification because that is standard police protocol, Watters said.
“I didn’t do anything other than ask him to leave because I knew he didn’t have a permit to be there,” Watters said. “I didn’t treat him bad. If he hadn’t had this thing to put money in, if he had been sitting on a bench, strumming a guitar, I wouldn’t have talked to him.”
Watters said the man later admitted to singing a “rebellious song of my contact with him” and then he left the area.
The chief said he never received a request to attend the city’s civilian review board to address the man’s complaint, and that he would have attended.
“I’ve bared my soul on a lot of things,” Tony Watters said. “Do you want to know what I think it is? I think I’m the political sacrifice.”
He said the recent attacks on his character, however, won’t leave a stain on his service to the community.
“I believe my integrity can withstand the test of time,” he said. “I believe that. I know it can. I don’t know why this has happened.”