Kentucky Trooper Was Killed in Midst of Act of Kindness

Suspect recorded video before he was shot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2015 1:09 AM CDT
Updated Sep 15, 2015 6:10 AM CDT
Kentucky Trooper Was Killed in Midst of Act of Kindness
This undated photo provided by Kentucky State Police shows Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks.   (Courtesy of the Kentucky State Police via AP)

Police in Kentucky are struggling to make sense of the death of a state trooper shot dead Sunday night, allegedly by a man he was trying to help. A Kentucky State Police spokesman says that after Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder pulled over Joseph Johnson-Shanks and discovered neither he nor the other adults in the vehicle had a valid driver's license, he tried to arrange a hotel for the group, which included two young children, NBC News reports. "So he wouldn't have to take the driver to jail, he was trying to help them out," the police spokesman says, but Johnson-Shanks drove off for an unknown reason and shot the trooper after a 9-mile chase. Police say Johnson-Shanks was on his way home to the St. Louis area from Atlanta when he was stopped for speeding, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Police say that after firing at the trooper's vehicle, Johnson-Shanks fled on foot into the woods, where he was shot dead yesterday morning following a huge manhunt after police found him and he refused to drop his weapon. In a Snapchat video apparently recorded soon before he was shot, the 25-year-old suspect says his goodbyes to family members, WSMV reports. "If I don't see anybody anymore, I love all y'all," Johnson-Shanks says. "I did something I didn't mean to. I'm gonna regret it." One of the two women in the vehicle, the suspect's 19-year-old niece, has been charged with first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension, the Post-Dispatch reports. (Police in Louisiana say an officer's cousin shot him dead with his own gun.)

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