Anderson police chief removed from position after fight with ISP during son’s arrest

ANDERSON, Ind. – Anderson’s police chief has been removed from his position. Major Joel Sandefur confirms says he will return to his position as a detective.

Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. made the decision this week about Tony Watters after receiving a report describing an interaction involving the former police chief and Indiana State Police (ISP) from June. That is when police arrested Watters’ son, Adam, in connection with a domestic dispute. Adam is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

The report alleges that Chief Watters touched his weapon telling an officer ‘I got one too.’ He also told officers that he'd been a police officer longer than most of them had been alive. He flipped them off and told them that this was his "*******" city.

Broderick says he learned of the encounter in mid-July. He met with ISP officers and Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings about the matter. Broderick requested the police report detailing the allegations, but the report was not released.

Cummings says that is not true. He claims days after Adam's arrest, he went to the mayor’s office to tell him what happened. He spoke with the deputy mayor who he says did not take any action.

Cummings says after weeks of not hearing anything, he set up a meeting with two ISP command lieutenants, the deputy mayor, the mayor and himself.

“Those reports are not public records, and I did not feel comfortable releasing those to the mayor because he had the information he needed from eye witness commands staff lieutenants at the state police," said Cummings.

An Anderson city council representative was given access to the report last week after the mayor requested a raise for the chief of police. Monday morning, the report was provided to the local newspaper. Broderick said he received the report Monday after making another request.

The mayor released the following statement about the report’s release:

This matter would have been resolved long ago if only the prosecutor would have released the report to me in a timely fashion. I do not understand the playing of politics in such an important matter. I wanted to make a timely decision, but it needed to be based on facts, not hearsay. I wanted the full story to be able to act in a fair and deliberate manner. Now that I have received the report, I am able to attend to the concerns raised, as well as the distractions surrounding the entire incident.

Cummings says the mayor is only acting now due to political pressure.

“His behavior was so far out of the realm of respectability and professionalism he could no longer defend him,” said Cummings.

However, the mayor disagrees, saying this was not a political move.

“He held on to it unnecessarily, and he gave it to a political opponent of mine. So you decide the politics. Obviously, this is not what I would want to see happen four weeks before an election. Anyone that thinks this helps me politically doesn’t understand the situation," said Mayor Broderick.

FOX59 spoke with Broderick on his way into the NAACP candidate forum on Wednesday night.

"Obviously this is not what I would want to see happen four weeks before an election," Broderick said. "So, anybody who thinks this is something that helps me politically doesn't understand the situation."

Broderick said his final decision came after receiving the police report of an altercation between state police and Watters during his son's arrest in June.

"When I read it and saw it then I had additional information than I had before," Broderick said. "In light of that, also in light of the surrounding circumstances, I thought it was best to see that he be removed."

Cummings criticized Broderick for not making the decision sooner. He said the mayor had the information a couple weeks after the arrest during a meeting with police officers on the scene that night, Broderick was at the meeting.

"Thats nonsense," Cummings said. "When this incident first came up in June or July whenever it was, it came to my attention. I was the only person that could really say anything the state police officers are not permitted to speak publicly. I went to the mayors office and attempted to contact him, he wasn’t available so I met with his deputy mayor, who I provided all of the information to. [I] heard nothing from them for at least two weeks in response. Then I made arrangements to have a meeting with the mayor with two command staff lieutenants with the Indiana State Police. The information that was in that report was provided to the mayor directly in a meeting where those two command staff lieutenants were present on the scene, saw what happened, provided that information to the mayor directly. I was there when that meeting took place. He did nothing again except make excuses for the chief. Then he said, 'Well I want to see it in the report.' What you don’t believe these lieutenants when they tell you what they saw and what they observed. It was an insult to suggest that somehow they needed to have verification.”

Still, Broderick said he did not feel like he was getting the full factual picture he said he needed to make an ultimate decision about Watters.

"When that occurred, I met with two police officers who were involved in the matter, and the information they gave me was a little bit different than what had been relayed into the paper [The Herald Bulletin]," Broderick explained. "But, I did ask that they would provide their police reports which included a detailed discussion of what occurred that night and also I believe an overview of all the other police officers involved."

Broderick said he still needed more details about the altercation.

"They [officers] gave partial account," Broderick said. "They weren't able to give the full account because the incident that occurred, there was three different locations. One of them was at the house of the chief, one of them was in the street near the house of the chief, the other was down in the park. They were only present at the one, and it was important to me to know what the balance of the story was, especially in light of the fact that the chief was denying it."

Ultimately, Broderick said his decision came when he felt he knew enough about the arrest.

"I wanted the facts," Broderick said. "That's what we strove to get and we finally did get even though belatedly unfortunately."

Broderick thanked Watters for his service and said his last day as chief will be Sunday, October 13.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.