Roger Glenn, 67, walked into the lobby of the Clanton Police Department to tell the chief he may have hit and killed a woman, Tonya Anderson, who had wandered, intoxicated, onto a dark highway.
Glenn, who is partially blind in his right eye, according to his deposition in a lawsuit, said that initially he thought he had hit a dog as he drove home from a concert, but he wasn’t sure anymore. The chief listened but made no record of the conversation.
Instead, the police department investigated Anderson’s husband, Jason Todd, and charged him with manslaughter. They claimed Todd, a musician, threw his wife’s car keys onto a nearby highway during a break in a late-night concert as his band performed at a local restaurant. Police said that act sent Anderson on a chase that ended in her death.
“I loved my wife. Still do, and always will,” Todd, 43, told police in an interrogation room after they showed him photos of her body, according to Todd’s federal lawsuit against the investigator. The case was first reported by AL.com in December.
Now details from depositions raise new questions about the tragic accident and unusual police response in a small Alabama town.
Multiple legal battles
Todd is now suing David Hicks, the traffic homicide investigator whose report to a grand jury stated Todd should be held responsible for his wife’s death on August 3, 2018.
“Jason Michael Todd should be held solely responsible and fully accountable for the wrongful death of Tonya Sherre Anderson,” Hicks’ report stated.
Todd argues in federal court that he was the subject of malicious prosecution.
Erick Smitherman, the current chief in Clanton, declined to comment due to the pending litigation. Attorneys for Hicks did not respond to multiple calls and emails requesting comment for this story.
Back in 2020, a judge quashed Todd’s criminal indictment due to a lack of evidence. Todd sued the town and two police officers on December 9, 2020.
In April of 2021, U.S. District Court Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. dismissed another officer and the City of Clanton as defendants in the lawsuit. That left Hicks as the only defendant in the case. One count of malicious prosecution against Hicks remains after the judge also dismissed all other counts.
A trial is set for Feb. 27, 2023.
In his answer to the suit, Hicks’ attorney argued that Hicks did not violate Todd’s constitutional rights and stated that there was probable cause for an arrest. Hicks also stated he is seeking immunity as a police officer.
“Each and every action taken by defendant (Hicks) was taken with the good faith belief that it was legal and lawful at the time so taken.”
The night of the accident
Tonya Anderson, 35, stood outside of Friends Steakhouse, the Clanton restaurant where Todd’s band played a concert on the night of August 3, 2018, close to midnight. She wanted to drive home, she told her husband, during a break in his set. They argued about it, and Anderson threatened to walk home.
“I’m not mad at you” Todd told his wife several times. Drunkenly, she threatened to leave. “Fine, walk home,” said Todd, believing she would not.
Todd went back inside to play his last few songs as Anderson wandered into the road, according to the lawsuit, and was struck by an oncoming car.
On August 14, 11 days after the accident, officers called Todd into the station. They interrogated him, showing him pictures of his dead wife. According to the deposition with Hicks, police said they wanted to get him to admit his guilt.
Meanwhile, according to depositions in the lawsuit, for over two weeks police failed to collect evidence from the vehicle of the man who said that he may have hit something that night in front of the restaurant.
The new records show police did not bring Roger Glenn in for questioning initially despite his publicly stating at the restaurant that he hit something on the night of Anderson’s death and despite telling the chief he may have hit “this girl.”
In his deposition, Sergeant Cameron Bates, who was involved peripherally in the investigation, questioned the handling of the case.
“I don’t see how you could allow someone to strike a pedestrian and leave the scene and think they shouldn’t be held accountable,” said Bates.
Bates said in his deposition he thought it would be impossible to hit something and not know it, and he had the impression Glenn was trying to hide something.
Glenn’s attorney, Murry Whitt, said Glenn had no idea he had hit Anderson until it was confirmed by testing after the accident.
“Mr. Glenn always wanted to do the right thing,” said Whitt. “When Mr. Glenn learned that he’d hit a person, he certainly didn’t want to hide anything and wanted to come forward and provide any evidence the police requested.”
Officer takes Glenn on a drive
On the day after Anderson’s death, Glenn said, he went to look over his car and saw a large dent on the hood and damage to a headlight.
Glenn said in a deposition on April 21, 2022, that he was a regular at Friends Restaurant. Glenn is a retired car washer for a Mazda shop, and he said he is on disability for reasons that he does not know.
“Do you know what condition you have that got you your disability?” Todd’s attorney asked.
“Not right offhand, I don’t,” said Glenn.
He said he would help set up for concerts at Friends, rearrange tables and chairs for the owners, in exchange for a Diet Coke or a tea.
In his deposition, Glenn said he did not drink alcohol. A separate state lawsuit by Todd, filed against Glenn and the restaurant, alleges Anderson was over-served, leading to the accident, and that Glenn was negligent for not driving safely. An attorney for Friends Restaurant declined to comment.
Whitt, Glenn’s attorney, told AL.com there is no evidence Glenn drank alcohol.
“Every witness who has testified has stated that Mr. Glenn would go to Friends to listen to music and that he never would drink alcohol while at Friends,” said Whitt.
Glenn often went to Friends to sing country songs, such as “Wichita Lineman” and “All the Gold in California,” on karaoke nights. According to multiple depositions, including Glenn’s, on the day after the accident Glenn returned to Friends and told some people there that he thought he had hit a deer in front of the restaurant the night before.
One of Todd’s bandmates, Daniel James Layne, called the police, according to Hicks’ investigative report. Hicks, who worked for the Clanton department for 21 years before retiring in 2021, and several other officers went to investigate.
“He stated he’d hit a deer or a dog last night,” Hicks said during his deposition, recalling what Glenn told several officers on the day after the accident.
According to several witnesses, one officer took Glenn away in his car for about 15 minutes the day after the accident. In his deposition, Hicks said he did not remember seeing an officer take Glenn away. In his statement, Glenn said he recalled going on the drive but could not remember which officer took him.
In a deposition this year with the former chief, Maddox, attorneys for Todd questioned him about the drive. Maddox said he was not there and did not know what happened on the drive. He said Hicks was the officer responsible for conducting the investigation.
“If an officer influenced Roger Glenn to change his story to something that was less incriminating, would that be a concern for you as the chief of the department at this time?”
“That would be,” said Maddox.
“We should not influence anyone to change their story. We just want the truth.”
After Glenn returned from the drive, according to both Hicks’ and Glenn’s depositions, Glenn changed his story about the location of the accident with the deer and said it had happened on another road.
“It just shook me up so bad when they started looking at my car,” said Glenn about altering his story.
Hicks said he looked at Glenn’s banged-up car and decided it looked like he’d hit an animal.
“A vehicle that hit a full-grown person standing up in the road, I was expecting more damage. I just wasn’t seeing it at that time on that car,” said Hicks, when being interviewed for the lawsuit.
Layne, Todd’s bandmate, was at Friends the day after the accident and told police a year later in an August, 2019 affidavit, referenced in Hicks’ deposition, that he could see blood and strands of hair on the front of Glenn’s vehicle.
Hicks told lawyers that he thought he saw some fuzz or dirt but nothing that looked human.
For two weeks, Glenn was not brought in for questioning and evidence samples were not taken or preserved. Instead, at some point afterward, but before his interview with police on August 18, Glenn took his car to a car wash, according to his deposition.
At some point, neither the chief nor Glenn could pinpoint how long after the accident, Glenn went to the police station to say he may have hit Anderson.
Maddox recalled in his deposition that Glenn seemed nervous and confused and he was rambling and said he thought he hit a dog, but he couldn’t remember, and he didn’t know if he “hit this girl” or not.
“I hit this girl, and I didn’t mean to,” Glenn, in his deposition, recalled telling Maddox.
Glenn told Maddox that they are kin, according to Maddox’s deposition. Maddox said in his deposition that he did not know he and Glenn were related until Glenn told him, but he later confirmed with his brother that they are distant cousins.
Maddox did not document the conversation in writing, and Glenn was not formally interviewed by police at the time.
“Do you know why it (an interview) wasn’t triggered by him coming to you and saying (this), the Police Chief of Clanton?”
“I’m sure I probably passed that information on to David (Hicks) or— another officer,” said Maddox.
“Do you know why nobody got a search warrant before Roger went and washed his car at a $20 car wash?” the attorneys questioned Maddox.
He said he did not.
Todd’s attorneys also questioned why video recordings with Glenn were not shared with Todd’s criminal defense when he was still facing charges for his wife’s death in 2019.
“The first time we saw it was when we filed this case,” said Todd’s attorney.
“I didn’t know it hadn’t been (disclosed),” said Maddox.
Human hair identified
Police eventually decided to collect evidence on August 21, including human hair and blood from the car, after Glenn again returned to Friends, 15 days after the accident, and spoke publicly about being sorry he hit a lady, according to the depositions.
Police finally held a formal interview with Glenn. During the interview, Glenn was not shown images of Anderson’s body as Todd had been, according to the depositions.
“I didn’t feel that he needed that kind of stress,” said Hicks in his deposition, adding that he didn’t know Glenn’s “mental status” and that Glenn was showing signs of remorse.
In his investigative report that was given to the grand jury, Hicks concluded that Todd should be held solely responsible for Anderson’s death.
Todd’s attorneys questioned his reasons for this conclusion.
“His actions led to her death is what I feel,” he answered during his deposition, adding that if Todd had allowed his wife to drive home, despite her .382 blood alcohol content level, she would not have been standing in the road when Glenn drove along.
When asked, Hicks also acknowledged that preventing Anderson from driving, given her level of intoxication, was the right thing to do.
Hicks said he did not expect the grand jury to indict Todd.
Hicks accused Todd of throwing Anderson’s keys across the road, which caused her to cross the road and be in the way of traffic. Officers did not have evidence, from security videos or witnesses, that Todd had thrown Anderson’s keys. Todd maintains he did not throw the keys.
When asked why his report stated Glenn should not be held responsible for hitting Anderson, Hicks said he was uncertain of Glenn’s state of mind and believed if Glenn realized he hit someone, he would have likely stopped.
If Glenn knowingly hit Anderson and did not stop, it would be a felony, Todd’s attorneys asserted to Hicks.
“I don’t see anywhere in here you ever asked Mr. Glenn if he saw Ms. Todd’s body on the hood of his car,” the asked. Did you ever ask him that question?” they asked.
“I don’t recall, sir,” said Hicks, during his deposition in April of 2022, well after the criminal charges against Todd had already been quashed.
Hicks said that he felt that Todd was responsible and that if he had not thrown the keys, his intoxicated wife would have driven home.
“How do you believe that Jason Todd committed manslaughter?” the attorney asked Hicks.
“The totality of the circumstances,” said Hicks. “I’m not sure about the manslaughter. I’ve seen in general how he’s responsible. Can I answer it that way?”