Former police officer pleads guilty in stun gun death

Published 2:54 pm Thursday, October 8, 2020

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A former North Carolina police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to assault in the death four years ago of a suspect on whom he used a stun gun after a car chase.

Jesse Craig Santifort, 34, a former police officer in Kenly, also surrendered his North Carolina law enforcement certification, news sources report citing the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. A grand jury had indicted Santifort in September 2016 for involuntary manslaughter.

The chase began on U.S. Highway 301 near Lucama on March 3, 2016, and ended when a pickup driven by Alexander Warren Thompson, 37, crashed into a fire hydrant. Initially, Santifort said Thompson ran away from him after the crash before he used his stun gun. He later told the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation that Thompson lunged at him and disregarded his commands to stop, so he used his stun gun.

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But witnesses contradicted Santifort, saying that Thompson was in his truck with his hands up when the officer shocked him. Authorities said Thompson was hit four times with the stun gun.

An autopsy showed that Thompson had an enlarged heart and had drugs in his system, but it was the shocks from the stun gun that killed him.