Last Sunday, Kentucky Trooper and Navy veteran Joseph Ponder was shot after a high-speed chase following a routine traffic stop. Ponder was trying to help 25-year-old Joseph Johnson-Shanks and his passengers when Johnson-Shanks murdered him—witnessed by two young children in Johnson-Shanks’ car. Perhaps most outrageous, however, was that Johnson-Shanks had been arrested for serious offenses before, but received a slap on the wrist by prosecutors.
According to police reports, Johnson-Shanks was pulled over for speeding on Christmas 2014, while his license was revoked. Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Hampton spotted several bags of marijuana in the vehicle, and saw the suspect holding a firearm in the glovebox with the grip “positioned … toward the driver, providing instant access.” He pleaded guilty to weapons charges, but despite his record (in 2013, he fled from police while in possession of marijuana) he was given a 30-month “conditional discharge.” Had he been jailed instead, Joseph Ponder might be alive today.