Prosecutors Drop Case Against Man Accused In Salt River Officer's Death

Published: Friday, June 25, 2021 - 4:21pm
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Maricopa County prosecutors are dropping their case against a man accused of distracted driving that led to the 2019 death of a Salt River police officer killed while doing a traffic stop on Loop 101.

Prosecutors say Jerry Sanstead was texting while driving, but not at the exact moment he hit Officer Clayton Townsend and a pulled over vehicle.

Still, prosecutors thought Sanstead having not paid attention to the road was the only reasonable explanation for the fatal crash.

Now the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office says two pieces of evidence are behind the decision to dismiss the case.

A key witness can’t testify at trial, and a defense medical expert says a seizure likely caused the crash.

Prosecutors spoke with another expert but concluded they probably could not win a manslaughter conviction of Sanstead.  

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