Family stays quiet about police chase; concerns after bystander's death


by Bryan Baker

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 27 at 12:40 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS) -- The tears and rain made it a very wet night to say goodbye to mother of three Stephanie Melson on the corner where she died in West Louisville this week.

The struggle to define why the tragedy happened surrounds Melson's friends and family. Earlier this week a man in a white truck sped from police after they say they tracked him during a drug investigation. The chase lasted just a few blocks, and ended when 63-year-old Joseph Johnson allegedly blew through a stop sign and struck Melson's red Grand Am, killing her. Melson was on a lunch break from the daycare where she worked with Rose Smith.

"She told us to stay after, hold the fort down, never made it back," Smith said.

Johnson faces murder charges and detectives say they found drugs, guns, and cash in his car and home.

As loved ones leave balloons and wear Stephanie's favorite color purple, some at the candlelight vigil aren't willing to stay quiet about the high-speed pursuit.

"(We should) organize to try to end the concept of police chases, the endangerment to your average civilian, it's not worth whatever or whomever you're trying to apprehend," an unidentified man in the crowd said.

It's a conversation Melson's uncle Lamont isn't quite ready to have.

"I'm not able to comment on that right now, but everybody knows it's a tragic thing," Lamont Melson said. "We're not going to think about the tragic way that she's gone, but we're gonna think and celebrate the time we've been able to share with her."

Family spokesman Christopher 2X said LMPD's 2nd division has offered apologies to the family and is willing to talk to them about the crash.

Melson had three kids, and the family has set up an account at any PNC Bank. Just ask to contribute to the Stephanie Melton Children's Memorial Fund.

Police say the chase is still under investigation to see if policies and procedures were followed.