UPDATED 10:10 AM PT – Sunday, June 27, 2021
Charges have been dropped against a man accused of killing a police officer while texting and driving in Arizona. Prosecutors announced the verdict on Friday and cited new evidence made it difficult to convict 42-year-old Jerry Sanstead with reckless manslaughter.
Sanstead was accused of fatally striking officer Clayton Townsend after allegedly veering across multiple lanes while texting his wife in 2019. Sanstead was charged in November of 2020, but the charges were dropped after a key witness could not be reached for testimony and a medical expert deemed a seizure as a possible cause of the crash.
— MaricopaCounty Atty. (@marcoattorney) June 25, 2021
“There has been a lot of thought and research into this decision,” Jennifer Liewer explained. “We know there’s an entire community and a police force in addition to the family and friends of Officer Townsend who are going to feel this loss forever, but we have to do what we believe is ethically appropriate.”
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office went on to announce a judge will now have to sign off on the proposal to dismiss.