Police Officer Ernest Kearns Ponce de Leon

Police Officer Ernest Kearns Ponce de Leon

Tallahassee Police Department, Florida

End of Watch Friday, July 8, 1988

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Ernest Kearns Ponce de Leon

Officer Ernest Ponce de Leon was shot and killed while assisting another officer during a suspicious vehicle call. The occupants of the vehicle had claimed that their identification was packed in luggage in the trunk. One of the occupants was accompanied by the other officer to the trunk while Officer Ponce de Leon covered them. Suddenly two of the men pulled out handguns and opened fire, striking Officer Ponce de Leon, who was not wearing a vest, in the chest.

One of the suspects was shot and wounded by the other officer. All of the suspects were apprehended as backup officers arrived on the scene. It was learned that the suspects had escapted from the Maryland Department of Corrections a few days prior. The 33-year-old suspect who shot Officer Ponce de Leon was sentenced to death and the others were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

The suspect sentenced to death died in prison October 27, 2015, of apparent natural causes.

Officer Ponce de Leon was survived by his son and daughter.


  • Age 40
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 647

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Died in prison

Most Recent Reflection

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I still miss you. Thank you for all you did for all, and for looking out for me. You made the ultimate sacrifice. Wish you were still here.

Melinda McClellan

July 17, 2021

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