Deputy recovering after hand cut off

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A sheriff's deputy from Clay County was recovering after a man he was trying to arrest cut off the deputy's hand with a bush axe.

In a statement to FOX6 News Monday evening, Clay County Sheriff Jean Alexander said Sgt. Jason Freeman was recovering at a Birmingham hospital. Sheriff Alexander said doctors had performed two surgeries to re-attach Freeman's hand, but said a long-term prognosis was not yet known.

Freeman's hand was cut off Friday night as he and other members of the Clay County Sheriff's Special Response Team attempted to arrest Curtis Watts, 48, at Watts' cabin on Saw Mill Road.  Sheriff Alexander said as the team approached the house at approximately 9:30 p.m., Watts came out of the front door and started swinging the bush axe, cutting off Freeman's hand.  Freeman deployed his taser, but Watts continued to swing the axe until another deputy shot and killed Watts.

Sheriff Alexander said deputies were trying to arrest Watts because a family member had signed a new arrest warrant out against him.  Watts had been arrested 10 days earlier on a domestic violence call.  During that arrest, a deputy had to use a taser because Watts was armed with a high-powered rifle.  Watts was later released on bond.