New report details crash on Loop 101 that killed Salt River Police officer Clayton Townsend

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- A new report just obtained by FOX 10 details what happened the night Salt River Police officer Clayton Townsend was hit and killed on a Valley freeway.

The Maricopa County Attorney is now deciding whether to file charges against the driver, who admitted he was texting at the time of the crash.

The description in the 254-page police report obtained from the Arizona Department of Public Safety indicates a violent crash on the Loop 101. Officer Townsend started the traffic stop on the passenger side, but when he went over to the driver's side, he was only there for 12 seconds before he was struck and killed. The crash marked a turning point in Arizona's battle against texting and driving.

Details from the deadly shows that witnesses clearly saw a driver not paying attention. According to the witnesses, Jerry Sanstead had his cell phone in his right hand, and drifted across three lanes of traffic before crashing into Officer Townsend. While much of the focus has been on Townsend's death, it should be noted that the driver who was pulled over by Townsend was also seriously hurt. Police officers who viewed the dashcam from Townsend's vehicle describe a violent crash, in which the officer was flung into the air before landing on his shoulder.

Townsend was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

Why was Townsend on the driver's side when he started the traffic stop from the passenger window? One clue could be a Tupperware bin in the car that was stopped that was blocking his view. From there, Townsend moved to the other side of the vehicle, where he was only there for 12 seconds. After the crash, the report indicates that Sanstead may have suffered a seizure and later a head injury from a fall.

Sanstead was booked at the 4th Avenue Jail, but has not been formally charged for manslaughter, aggravated assault, and endangerment. That could change, however, with the revealing of the document.

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill that bans texting while driving in April. The law will take full effect in 2021.