Funeral held for Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend

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PHOENIX (AP/FOX 10) - A lengthy procession led by a white hearse has taken the body of an Arizona police officer killed while on duty to a Peoria church for his funeral Tuesday.

Officer Clayton Townsend of the Salt River Police Department was killed when he was struck by a vehicle Jan. 8 while conducting a traffic stop on the Loop 101 freeway near Scottsdale.

"Clayton's passing is a tragedy. It has broken my heart and of my family," said Townsend's brother, Cole Townsend, during the funeral. "There's a void. It can never be replaced. I had the honor to be Clayton's brother and spend 26 years on this Earth, sharing hundreds of memories and learning from him."

At the church, an officer escorted Townsend's widow on one arm while carrying the couple's 10-month-old son in a baby carried on the other.

The hour-long procession from a Scottsdale funeral home included dozens of police motorcycles and a long line of other law enforcement vehicles with flashing lights.

Traffic was halted on the Loop 101 freeway for the procession, and a giant American flag was hung in tribute from firetrucks' raised ladders in the driveway to church.

Nearby, Arizona and U.S. flags hung in tribute from Arizona Public Service Co. equipment as utility workers stood with their hands over their hearts.

"Our community was safer because Clayton was on duty, while the community conducted business, children went off to school, they played and everyone slept safely in their homes because of his duty to stand the watch like a good shepherd guarding and defending his flock," said Salt River Police Chief Karl Auerbach.