Scottsdale, Ariz. — The Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) is investigating a fatal collision involving a Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community police officer, that occurred on January 8, 2019, at 6:04 p.m. The Salt River Police Department officer was struck by a distracted motorist while he was standing by the driver’s side door of the passenger car he had stopped.
At 6:02 p.m. Officer Clayton Townsend was conducting a traffic stop on a white passenger vehicle for expired registration northbound along SR 101, just south of the McDowell Road off-ramp, within the right-side emergency lane.
At 6:04 p.m., Officer Townsend was standing at the driver’s side door of the vehicle he had stopped when a black passenger vehicle entered the right-side emergency lane, collided with the white passenger vehicle and then struck Officer Townsend. Officer Townsend sustained head trauma during the impact. The driver of the white passenger vehicle sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Another Salt River police officer arrived on the scene and began rendering aid to Officer Townsend. Officer Townsend was transported to Honor Health Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center and was pronounced deceased at 6:35 p.m.
The driver of the white passenger vehicle was also transported to Honor Health Scottsdale Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
During the investigation on scene, the driver of the black passenger car told AZDPS detectives he had been texting during the time his vehicle entered the right-side emergency lane and struck the police officer. A witness told detectives that the driver of the black passenger car was looking down at his phone just before crossing over two traffic lanes and then striking the officer.
The driver of the black passenger car, identified as 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead of Scottsdale, was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail for Manslaughter, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Endangerment.