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, AZFamily.com 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.
Our prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Officer Townsend as well as to the men and women of the Salt River Police Department. Arizona is grateful for his service and that of all our men and women in blue. #RIP https://t.co/YPRhTvYPoa
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 9, 2019
I am sorry to report the death of a Salt River Tribal Police Officer tonight. Details are still being realized, but it appears he was struck and killed by a car, while on a traffic stop on SR101 near McDowell Rosd. @Arizona_DPS Troopers are conducting the investigation.
— Col. Frank Milstead (@frank_milstead) January 9, 2019
Through sunset today, the flag will be at half-staff to honor the life of Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend, who died in the line of duty last night. Our hearts are with Officer Townsend’s family, the Salt River Police Dept., & all our Brothers & Sisters in Blue. 💙❤️ pic.twitter.com/GUjdnqQr8I
— Tucson Fire Department (@TucsonFireDept) January 9, 2019
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Salt River Police Department and the family of Ofc Clayton Townsend who was killed in the line of duty last night. Rest In Peace Brother. #honorthefallen pic.twitter.com/ppRvP8S3z8
— Tucson Police K9 (@tucsonpolicek9) January 9, 2019
Condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Salt River Arizona Tribal Police Officer Clayton Townsend, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver who failed to move-over as he was conducting a traffic stop on the roadside. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/tBfQAmsgqD
— Knoxville Police TN (@Knoxville_PD) January 9, 2019
The @phoenixpolice Department extends its deepest condolences to the family of Officer Clayton Townsend and the Salt River Police Department. We join you in mourning the loss of Officer Townsend. Thank you for your service. pic.twitter.com/66t3CFEVCA
— Phoenix Police Department (@phoenixpolice) January 9, 2019
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers of Salt River Pima Maricopa Police Officer Clayton Townsend who was killed last night in the line of duty. pic.twitter.com/HIBma79FzD
— ScottsdalePD (@ScottsdalePD) January 9, 2019
Our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Salt River PD Officer Clayton Townsend. pic.twitter.com/yk2VOe0cpk
— Chandler Police (@ChandlerPolice) January 9, 2019
Last night, Salt River Tribal Police Department Officer Clayton Townsend was struck and killed while conducting a traffic stop on the Loop 101, near McClintock Drive. Officer Townsends sacrifice marks the first line of duty death in the State of Arizona in 2019, and the third pic.twitter.com/c1YLIJr7oJ
— Prescott Police Dept (@PrescottPD) January 9, 2019