A rookie Kentucky state trooper who was fatally shot after making a weekend traffic stop was trying to help the Missouri man accused of killing him find a place to stay, state police said on Tuesday.
Police said Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks gunned down Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder late Sunday after he fled from a traffic stop in the western part of the state. Ponder, 31, died from his injuries. Johnson-Shanks, 25, also died after authorities who were looking for him shot him on Monday.
Ponder was trying to help Johnson-Shanks and his passengers find a hotel room since Johnson-Shanks had a suspended license and his passengers also were not able to legally drive, according to Kentucky State Police spokesman Jay Thomas.
The spokesman had earlier said he was not sure what initiated the traffic stop.
In a video posted by local media that was taken after Ponder was shot, a man police identified as Johnson-Shanks is seen moving in the dark, saying into the camera: “I did something I didn’t mean to. I’m gonna regret it.”
Johnson-Shanks’ 18-year-old niece Ambrea Shanks, of Missouri, was a passenger in his vehicle and was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution or apprehension after being interviewed by detectives, police said.
Two children under 6 years old and a 22-year-old woman also rode in the vehicle, police said.
Ponder graduated from the Kentucky State Police training academy in January and had previously served in the U.S. Navy, officials said.
A funeral for Ponder is planned for Friday.