Editor's Note: WAVE 3 News always strives to be respectful in tragic situations like this one. We do have a journalistic duty, however, to report on these incidents and shed as much light as possible on even horrific events. Clearly, the recording we've written about below sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Trooper Ponder. As an aside, we took our cue from law enforcement sources who also posted the material online before we did.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Audio of the final moments before a Kentucky State Trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop was released Tuesday.
Scanner traffic involving the death of Trooper Cameron Ponder has been circulating online. Out of respect for Ponder and his family, and his law enforcement family, WAVE 3 News chose not to air (or post online) the portion of the scanner traffic during which Ponder was shot.
The conversation Ponder had with his dispatchers late Sunday evening before he was shot was relatively calm while he was pursuing 25-year-old Joseph Johnson-Shanks.
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"What's your speed?" questioned dispatch.
"103-107," Ponder responded. "There is multiple juveniles in the car."
Ponder pulled Johnson-Shanks over for a suspended license. He was trying to help him and the passengers in his car by getting them a hotel room for the night.
For some reason, Johnson-Shanks took off, leading Ponder on a nine-mile chase. More than four minutes into the call to dispatch, Ponder made a request to stop the suspect.
"Permission to PIT," Ponder requested.
"Yeah," the dispatcher said.
A PIT maneuver forces a fleeing car to turn sideways, causing the driver to lose control and stop.
Police said Johnson-Shanks leaned out of the driver's window and fired at Ponder, striking the trooper with shots through the windshield.
"Shots fired at 85, he's been hit," the dispatcher said. "He's passing out."
Seconds later, a witness jumped in and tried to help.
"I really don't know what to say here," the witness said. "I just pulled over. I heard the gun shots. This officer I don't think he can breathe well. We're at I-24 close to exit 45 KY 293."
"Keep talking to him, keep talking to him," the dispatcher said.
While that witness stayed by Ponder's side, and first responders rushed to the scene, officers continued to search for Johnson-Shanks, who got away, but only for a few hours. He was cornered in the woods close to the shooting scene.
It appears Johnson-Shanks left a message minutes before police shot him. Johnson-Shanks recorded a short Snapchat video after he shot and killed Ponder in Lyon County.
Johnson-Shanks said his last goodbyes in the short video.
"If I don't see anybody anymore, I love all y'all," Johnson-Shanks said on the recording. "I did something I didn't mean to. I'm gonna regret it."
A spokesman for Kentucky State Police confirmed the man in the video was Johnson-Shanks.
The video clip was found circulating among Johnson-Shanks' friends and family. It is not known when or where the suspect filmed the video.
WAVE 3 News discovered a Facebook page investigators said belonged to Johnson-Shanks.
Photos on the page feature Michael Brown, the unarmed teen killed by a Missouri police officer last year. Police said Johnson-Shanks lived in Florissant, MO, just a few miles from Ferguson. After Brown's death, the city erupted in riots and marches, and it looks like Johnson-Shanks was there. Pictures show the man alongside law enforcement officers. Another captures a glimpse inside Brown's memorial service.
Johnson-Shanks was wanted in St. Louis County, where police said he stole lottery tickets from a gas station in May. With winnings included, the tickets he stole amounted to more than $1,200.
In 2013, police arrested Johnson-Shanks for a drug violation during a traffic stop. Then, last year, police arrested him for failing to appear in court. The charges he faced included interfering with a police officer and property damage.