Phoenix, Arizona, felt the sting of mourning on Tuesday as the city slowed to a crawl to honor the funeral procession of fallen Officer Clayton Townsend of the Salt River Police Department, The Associated Press and Fox 10 Phoenix reported.
The man accused of killing Townsend is 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead, who struck Townsend on Jan. 8, according to Fox 10.
Townsend was conducting a traffic stop at the time.
Sanstead admitted to authorities that he was texting his wife when the crash occurred.
Townsend suffered head trauma from the impact and was pronounced dead at Honor Health Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.
On Tuesday, the community’s grief was on public display.
First responder vehicles as far as the eye can see.
— Adam Bagni (@AdamBagni) January 15, 2019
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) January 15, 2019
— Linda Fox 10 (@lindawfox10) January 15, 2019
Townsend’s visitation, which took place on Monday, was described as a “quiet event full of prayers” with law enforcement officers from multiple agencies present, according to Fox 10.
On Friday, a candlelight vigil was attended by hundreds to honor Townsend, according to AZ Central, the website of the Arizona Republic newspaper.
Chief Karl Auerbach, of the Salt River Police Department, told AZ Central that Townsend was a guardian of the people.
“The outpouring of compassion, care and love from the community and citizens of Arizona has been overwhelming,” Auerbach said at the vigil. “It was such a blessing to see so many people here today to support both the police department and the Townsend family.”
Auerbach told the publication that his department hoped the vigil would help the community come together in Townsend’s honor.
“The fact that there were well over 500 people here today on a Friday evening to show the Townsend family that they were supported by their community is very moving,” Auerbach said.
The funeral procession Tuesday made its way from the Big Surf Water Park in Tempe to the Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria, and resulted in multiple roadways being shut down.
Townsend left behind a wife, Deanna, and their 10-month-old son, Brixton.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the officer’s family, where donations can be made to support Townsend’s family in their time of need.
Sanstead was released from jail on Thursday after posting a $100,000 bond.
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