Former Kenly Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Assault

Surrenders Law Enforcement Certification

A former Kenly police officer who was indicted for involuntary manslaughter in the death of a suspect he tasered at the conclusion of a high speed chase has been found guilty of lesser charges.

On March 3, 2016, Officer Jesse Santifort began pursuing a pickup truck near Kenly. The chase ended when the suspect, 37 year-old Alexander Warren Thompson of Smithfield, drove off Highway 70 East of Smithfield.

Officer Santifort deployed his taser initially striking Thompson in the chest. Two witnesses stated Thompson was still seated in his truck with both hands in the air when the police officer deployed his taser.  After the initial taser deployment, Santifort fired the taser three more times.  When a second officer arrived at the scene, Thompson was not breathing and had no pulse.

The officer attempted to perform CPR and was able to get his pulse back.  He was taken by ambulance to the hospital but Thompson died three days later at Wake Medical Center. An autopsy revealed his death was related to the incident and caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain following “conducted electrical weapon application.” The coroner’s report also indicated Thompson had “acute methamphetamine intoxication” and a heart condition.

In a case prosecuted by the NC Conference of District Attorneys, Santifort appeared in Johnston County Court today (Tuesday) and took responsibility for assaulting Alexander Thompson by deploying the taser into Thompson’s body when he was not legally authorized to do so. He entered a plea to misdemeanor assault and received unsupervised probation. In addition, he agreed to surrender his North Carolina law enforcement certification.

“The resolution of this case accomplished the two things most important to Mr. Thompson’s family. The defendant took responsibility for his actions and he will be barred from acting as a law enforcement officer,” said Kimberly Overton Spahos, Chief Resource Prosecutor with the NC Conference of District Attorneys.  “We hope today will begin a time of healing, peace and closure for Mr. Thompson’s family.”

Santifort was originally indicted in September 2016 by a Johnston County Grand Jury for involuntary manslaughter.  The NC SBI investigated the fatal incident.

2016 scene photos by John Payne