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Judge revokes certification of Kenly officer charged in stun gun death

Posted November 3

Kenly police  Officer Jesse Craig Santifort walks into the Johnston County Courthouse on Sept. 8, 2016, to face a charge of involuntary manslaughter after a man died from Santifort's use of a stun gun.
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— Eight months after a Princeton man died after being zapped with a stun gun, a Kenly police officer involved in the incident is off the job.

Superior Court Judge William Pittman ordered state authorities Thursday to revoke the law enforcement certification of Officer Jesse Craig Santifort until an involuntary manslaughter charge against him has been resolved.

Santifort, 30, had been restricted in recent months to administrative duties in the Kenly Police Department, but prosecutors complained in a motion that he had shown up to a previous court hearing in his case in uniform, including his handgun.

Alexander Warren Thompson, 37, died days after Santifort zapped him with a stun gun at the end of a two-county chase on March 3.

The chase started on U.S. Highway 301 near Lucama and reached speeds of 100 mph as it continued into Johnston County. It ended when Thompson's pickup crashed into a fire hydrant near the intersection of Country Store Road and U.S. Highway 70, between Pine Level and Princeton.

Santifort said Thompson then rushed at him and disregarded his commands to stop, so he used his stun gun.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle said in a September court hearing that witnesses contradicted Santifort's version of events, saying that Thompson was in his truck with his hands up when the officer shocked him. Doyle said Thompson was hit four times with the stun gun.

Santifort also gave inconsistent statements to investigators, she said. Because she no longer believes him to be a credible witness, she said she had to dismiss a number of cases in which he was the investigating officer.

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

Prosecutors asked Pittman during a Thursday morning court hearing to order Kenly officials to release any use-of-force reports involving Santifort. The town's attorney said he wasn't properly notified of the hearing and wasn't prepared to address the motions, so Pittman delayed the matter until next week.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys asked Pittman to set aside previous orders that police departments in Kenly, Micro, LaGrange and Fremont turn over Santifort's personnel records to prosecutors and that Johnston Community College release its records of a Basic Law Enforcement Training class on use of force that Santifort took last year.

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  • Ed Livesay Nov 3, 10:11 p.m.
    user avatar

    .003 amps and about 80,000 volts.... it's a crowd pleaser but typically not fatal without compounding circumstances. And with those, how could any Officer know beforehand?

  • Jeff Freuler Nov 3, 8:40 p.m.
    user avatar

    There's not enough amps in the TASER to kill someone. But let's blame it and not his enlarged heart or the drugs in his system