On Sunday, September 13, Kentucky State Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot and killed by a man who hails from the Ferguson, Missouri, area. The suspect was shot and killed this morning after an hours-long manhunt.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, he is the 25th officer to be killed by gunfire since the beginning of the year.
Joseph Cameron Ponder, age 31, had been on the force less than a year. He was shot while pursuing the fleeing suspect after conducting a traffic stop.
The suspect was identified as Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, age 25, of Florissant, Missouri. Florissant is a St. Louis suburb next to Ferguson, the location of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. That shooting sparked months of protests and riots as no charges were brought against Wilson, who had acted in self-defense.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported:
According to Kentucky State Police, Ponder was conducting a traffic stop Sunday night at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday on Interstate 24 when the driver fled. The chase lasted for about nine miles, police say.
The trooper began chasing the suspect, who stopped abruptly, causing the trooper’s vehicle to “make contact” with the rear of the suspect’s vehicle, Kentucky State Police said.
The driver then fired several shots into Ponder’s police cruiser, hitting him several times. Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, KY. where he died shortly before midnight Sunday, police say.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Johnson-Shanks was arrested on Aug. 10, 2014, for “failure to appear.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch also reports that Johnson-Shanks was arrested on May 18 this year for allegedly stealing lottery tickets. In January of 2015, the website Heavy reported that Johnson-Shanks won $1,000 from the Missouri Lottery.
Johnson Shanks reportedly posted a photo collage of Martin Luther King, Malcom X and Michael Brown on “social media.”
He reposted photos of memorial sites for Michael Brown and others killed by police, asking “Why is it taking so long to arrest those officers.”
If Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks had a Facebook page, it appears to have been taken down.
Joseph Johnson-Shanks’ Facebook page has been located by the Wonderland Research Group. It appears to be the social media site referred to by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which mentioned a “photo collage of Martin Luther King, Malcom X and Michael Brown.” Shanks posted under the name “Jay MileHigh.”
Shanks’ Facebook photos show that he participated in the Ferguson protests/riots and attended Michael Brown’s funeral. He rode to the memorial service with friends in a rented limousine.