Garrett Michael Peterson, former Tempe police officer, found dead in Yuma County jail

YUMA, AZ - A former Tempe police officer held in a Yuma jail while awaiting trial in a high-speed chase late last year was found dead in his cell, authorities said Monday.

Yuma County sheriff's officials said guards in the county Adult Detention Center discovered Garrett Michael Peterson dead early Monday.

They said Peterson, 31, was the only occupant of the cell and the cause of death was under investigation.

It wasn't immediately clear Monday night if Peterson had an attorney.

The Chandler resident resigned from the Tempe Police Department last December after being arrested twice in a three-day span. He had been with the force since May 2007.

Peterson first was arrested Dec. 14 on suspicion of threatening his ex-wife and her new husband in Gilbert and then leading police on a freeway chase that topped 120 mph. Authorities say he was intoxicated.

Peterson was arrested on suspicion of felony endangerment, threatening and intimidating, DUI, felony flight and reckless driving.

He posted a $10,000 bond on Dec. 16, resigned from his officer job and was supposed to sign up for house arrest and electronic monitoring.

Instead, authorities say he was found driving the wrong way on a southern Arizona freeway while impaired.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officers on Interstate 8 chased Peterson, who reached speeds of 90 mph before he crashed into a tractor-trailer.

Peterson suffered minor head injuries in the collision. Yuma authorities said he was jailed on a $1 million bond on suspicion of endangerment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful flight.

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