The Louisiana man who shot and killed former NFL running back Joe McKnight in a road rage incident last week has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, county online jail records showed.
According to USA Today, a spokesman from the Jefferson Parish Louisiana Sheriff’s Office refused to comment on the arrest of 54-year-old Ronald Gasser who remained at the scene of Thursday’s deadly shooting until police arrived.
Gasser was initially released from police custody Friday morning, but investigators said they were working to consult with the District Attorney’s Office on whether to charge the gunman in McKnight’s death.
“In this state, there are some relative statutes [Stand Your Ground] that provide defenses to certain crimes,” Sheriff Newell Normand said during a news conference Friday evening. “For example, officers have those same defenses, so when we shoot and kill someone, it’s a homicide, but the question is, is it justified?”
A Tuesday morning news conference giving more details of the disturbing case revealed a different side of Normand, who became inexplicably defensive about the recent criticisms his department faced over its less-than-direct approach in investigating the McKnight case.
At one point, the sheriff, clearly frustrated, pounded on the podium and read profanity-laden comments from critics directed at law enforcement and elected officials. According to NBC Sports, the station reportedly had to cut away from the press conference, as Normand started using not-safe-for TV words like “Uncle Tom,” “c-nt and f-ggot.”
“Tough. I don’t care,” he said to those who criticized him for Gasser’s delayed arrest. “What I know is that I can put my head on the pillow every night knowing we’ve done the right thing for the right reasons. Justice is a marathon, not sprint.”
Later in the conference (shown above), the sheriff seemingly calmed down and addressed the shooting. He explained that accounts from over 160 witnesses is ultimately what led them to arrest Gasser for manslaughter. NBC Sports reported that one witness who claimed the gunman exited his car and stood over McKnight before shooting him a final time told authorities three conflicting stories within an hour.
“Shame on that individual,” Normand said of the witness.
The sheriff went on to explain that Gasser and McKnight had gotten into a heated verbal exchange after McKnight reportedly cut Gasser off in traffic. The two men eventually came to a stop light, when Normand said the former footballer exited his vehicle and approached Gasser’s. According to the Washington Post, the sheriff did not say whether McKnight tried to pry open the door, but bent down to speak to Gasser “eye to eye.”
At some point during the verbal exchange, the Louisiana man pulled out his weapon and fired at McKnight three times, killing him.
“Let us not try to make this out to be something that it is not,” the sheriff said in an attempt to fend off claims that there was a “racial” angle. “What we had were two adult males engaged in unacceptable behavior.” It should be noted that McKnight was unarmed when he approached Gasser’s vehicle, although a handgun belonging to his stepfather was found in his vehicle. Officials do not believe McKnight mentioned he had a gun nor did he threatened Gasser with it.
This is the second time Gasser has been involved in a violent road-rage incident. In 2006, the Louisiana man reportedly assaulted another driver at the very same intersection where he shot and killed the former football star. The other motorist told authorities that Gasser followed him to a nearby gas station in his pickup truck, got out of his vehicle and started punching him. A misdemeanor charge stemming from the incident was later dismissed, however, according to CNN.com.
On Thursday, Gasser reportedly handed over a semi-automatic gun to police and confessed to killing McKnight, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The Louisiana gunman is back in custody, but many have argued that the manslaughter charge just isn’t enough; what he did to McKnight should carry the charge of murder.
Why's it so difficult to charge white men with MURDER? Manslaughter incenuates that this was an act of defense. I'll be damned. https://t.co/ndoVVvpOq0
— Cass™, The Wonderer (@Cass_I_Nova) December 6, 2016
Joe McKnight was murdered.Ronald Gasser didn't think his life mattered. That's not manslaughter, it's Murder 1. Our justice system is broken
— Frank Chow (@FrankChow) December 6, 2016
I don't see any way #JoeMcKnight killer should be charged with manslaughter and not murder. Crazy.
— Bob Cunningham ❄ (@BCunningham215) December 6, 2016
Sheriff Newell Normand is already lowballing the charge to manslaughter. Press conference is total bullshit. Should be MURDER. #joemcknight
— Mike The Realist (@Mike504ever) December 6, 2016
Manslaughter my ass. That is straight up murder if someone is apologizing and you shoot him cold blood. Not enough justice for #JoeMcKnight
— Justin Cheng (@therealjcheng) December 6, 2016
Intentionally shooting someone in a road rage incident is murder not manslaughter #joemcknight
— ₩¥$!₩¥Ğ (@85Tosin) December 6, 2016
The McKnight shooting is eerily similar to the road-rage incident involving former NFL star Will Smith, who was gunned down by another motorist in New Orleans in April 2016. The accused shooter, 29-year-old Cardell Hayes, has since been charged with murder.
Investigators said they don’t believe race played a factor in the McKnight shooting.
This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.