Arizona police officer hit and killed by driver who admitted to texting behind the wheel

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — A police officer in Arizona was killed Tuesday night after he was hit by a car during a traffic stop.

The driver of the vehicle that hit Clayton Townsend admitted that he was texting while driving, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

Jerry Sanstead, 40, went before a judge on Wednesday to face charges of manslaughter, endangerment, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

He pleaded not guilty and bond was set at $100,000, reported.

Court documents showed Sanstead was texting his wife about their plans for the night and never saw the flashing lights.

Officer Townsend had just returned to work following a Disney vacation with his wife and young son, KNXV reported.

Townsend was with the Salt River Police Department for five years.

He was “one of the most dedicated, loyal, and committed officers,” Chief Karl Auerbach said in a news briefing Tuesday night.

Townsend was also a cancer survivor and was told he might never have children. His son Brixton is now 10-months-old.

Family and friends described Townsend and his wife, Deanna, as soul mates.

Because he was a cancer survivor, Townsend did not quality for life insurance.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family. As of Thursday morning, more than $17,000 had been raised.

Arizona’s governor tweeted his condolences and tributes were pouring in from police agencies across the country.


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