Law enforcement officers face significant risk of injury and death from traffic incidents; it’s a serious occupational hazard; The leading cause of death for police are … traffic collisions — not shootings or other attacks, and very few of the collisions involve high-speed chases. Just run-of-the-mill crashes where inattentive or otherwise impaired drivers crash into them.
Just how inattentive do you have to be to not be able to not notice an emergency vehicle with flashing lights? Apparently so much so that that driver will be charged with a crime, as Jorge Espinoza found out after killing DPS Officer Tim Huffman near Yuma in 2015. Espinoza was charged with 2nd Degree Murder, and convicted of Negligent Homicide and sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Arizona continues to lack a statewide cell ban (see news about city of Glendale, below); but the problem with flagrantly bad driver incidents in general continues to be lack of investigation along with lack of prosecutorial will to pursue cases. The case of Officer Huffman is the exception that proves the rule. Perhaps the case of Officer Townsend will be too.
The driver here was arrested on suspicion of a litany of charges, though that’s a long way from actually bringing charges, and longer still to any conviction. The message from the justice system in Arizona is clear: if you are drunk or chemically impaired and kill someone as a result, the hammer will come down hard. Otherwise, anything goes; unless you have the bad luck to kill a police officer.
In related news, Glendale is the latest of a whole bunch of localities that instituted handheld cell restrictions. Can you say ‘patchwork’? At the same time, it’s not at all clear these sorts of restrictions are effective at dissuading drivers from engaging in dangerous behaviors.
Driver who hit, killed Salt River officer while allegedly texting posts bond
David Baker Updated 14 hrs ago | Posted on Jan 8, 2019 19
… Sanstead is facing charges including manslaughter in connection with the Tuesday night wreck that killed Officer Clayton Townsend.
…While Townsend was standing at the driver’s side door of the white passenger vehicle he stopped, a black passenger vehicle entered the right-side emergency lane and collided with the white passenger vehicle and then hit the officer.
…According to DPS, Sanstead told detectives he was texting when his vehicle struck the police officer. A witness told DPS that Sanstead’s vehicle crossed over two traffic lanes before hitting the officer.
Sanstead, who has no previous record, was arrested and booked into jail for manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and endangerment. His attorney told a judge Sanstead is a licensed massage therapist and is married with children. He’s due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 17.