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5:10 PM Wed, Jan. 16th

Police: Driver texting before Arizona crash that killed cop

In this undated photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Jerry Sanstead. Sanstead, the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a police officer on a Phoenix-area freeway was texting before the wreck and has been arrested and accused of manslaughter and other crimes, authorities said Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)

In this undated photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Jerry Sanstead. Sanstead, the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a police officer on a Phoenix-area freeway was texting before the wreck and has been arrested and accused of manslaughter and other crimes, authorities said Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)

PHOENIX — The driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a police officer on a Phoenix-area freeway was texting before the wreck and has been arrested and accused of manslaughter and other crimes, authorities said Wednesday.

Jerry Sanstead of Scottsdale, 40, told investigators that he was texting before his vehicle struck Salt River police Officer Clayton Townsend as he stood in an emergency lane next to a vehicle he had pulled over on the Loop 101 freeway near Scottsdale, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

A witness said the driver who struck Townsend was looking down at his phone and crossed two traffic lanes before the wreck during the Tuesday evening commute, the statement said.

Sanstead was jailed on suspicion of manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and endangerment, the statement said.

It's not known whether Sanstead had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Officials said Townsend was married and had a 10-month-old child. He had served five years with the Salt River Police Department, an agency of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Salt River Police Chief Karl Auerbach called Townsend caring, compassionate and "truly a guardian of the people."

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings lowered to half-staff Wednesday. He said in a statement that "prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Officer Clayton Townsend as well as to the men and women of the Salt River Police Department."