Ronald Gasser shot Joe McKnight in broad daylight. He told police officers he did so and turned over the weapon he used to do it. Still, it took them four days to charge him with a crime.
After being released overnight following his initial arrest, Gasser was arrested again on Monday and charged with manslaughter after what authorities are calling a road rage incident that left one man dead.
According to the New York Times, local police conducted more than 160 interviews, including more than 12 hours of conversation with Gasser. Because Louisiana is a “stand-your-ground” state, they felt they had to wait for more witnesses and video footage to corroborate any evidence.
After coming under harsh criticism for a perceived reluctance to charge Gasser, Sheriff Newell Normand of Jefferson Parish held a heated press conference on Tuesday defending the actions of the department.
“In this state, whether we like it or not, we have a very forward-leaning ‘stand your ground’ self-defense, justifiable homicide laws,” he said. “That creates for us an obligation to make sure that we get it right.”
Part of his time at the podium was spent reading threatening and offensive messages targeted at the department, including the use of multiple racial and homophobic slurs.
“For those who have criticized the men and women of this organization and the strategy decisions that we made relative to that: Tough. I don’t care,” said Normand. “Because what I know is I can put my head on the pillow every night, knowing that we’ve done the right thing for the right reasons.”
Many members of the social justice community felt that the race of the two men played a role in the slow movement by police.
“There is nothing that could’ve happened yesterday at 3 p.m. in broad daylight on a Louisiana highway, in front of many people passing back and forth in front of a gas station, that would make this man feel that he was in danger of losing his life,” said attorney Moe Reed Jr.
Photo Credit: Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office