ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Police officers converged on a Kentucky church Friday for the funeral of a state trooper who was shot to death during a high-speed chase.
A giant U.S. flag hoisted by fire truck ladders was on display as mourners gathered for the funeral of Kentucky State Police Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder. Law enforcement officers from across Kentucky and the country entered Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown for the service.
Police said Ponder, 31, died Sunday night after being shot by a man he had stopped for speeding in western Kentucky. Ponder, a decorated Navy veteran, had been on the state police force for less than a year.
The suspect, 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri, had a suspended license, and Ponder was arranging lodging for the man and his passengers when the suspect took off, officials have said.
Johnson-Shanks opened fire after his car had blown a tire during the chase. He ran away after Ponder was shot, but was found the next morning after a massive manhunt in a wooded area near the roadway, according to officials.
Johnson-Shanks drew a weapon at police, ignored commands to drop his weapon and was fatally shot by officers, police have said.
Ponder was white, and Johnson-Shanks was black. The shooting came amid a nationwide debate over issues of trust between law enforcement and minority communities.
A passenger in the vehicle, 18-year-old Ambrea Shanks of Florissant, Missouri, was charged with first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension. The Paducah Sun reports that she pleaded not guilty Thursday in Caldwell District Court in Princeton.
According to WSIL-TV, Johnson-Shanks was on probation after pleading guilty last year to drug charges in Franklin County, Illinois.
Meanwhile, state police asked on Friday morning that a recording of the fatal chase be taken off the Internet. Ponder is heard on the recording calling out that he was shot and needed assistance.
State police said an Internet-based scanning service, not affiliated with KSP, recorded the radio transmission and uploaded the audio file to YouTube in a video format.
YouTube denied a request by state police to remove the video, said state police Sgt. Michael Webb.
“We do not want this man’s last dying words to play out in the public media out of respect for his family,” Webb said Friday.