54-year-old Ronald Gasser, the man who admitted to killing former football pro Joe McKnight, was released without charges on Friday.
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) December 2, 2016
Authorities said at a press conference on Friday that Ronald admitted to shooting Joe three times at an intersection in the New Orleans area around 3pm.
Because of the circumstances — a white man shooting a black man, admitting it, and going free instead of remaining in custody pending investigation — many responded with outrage.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand stressed the fact that the investigation would not be swayed by outside sentiment, particularly from social media. Authorities are exercising caution and not rushing to judgment, Normand said on Friday.
“We also know that Mr. Gasser … admitted to shooting Joe McKnight, Jr.,” Normand said in the press conference. He also rejected the idea that race had played a factor. “Everybody wants to make this about race,” Normand told reporters, according to the New York Times. “This isn’t about race.”
When asked why Gasser was released without charges, Normand mentioned state statutes that allowed the suspect’s release while an investigation is underway. Louisiana has a “Stand Your Ground” law, much like Florida’s, which states that a person is justified in using deadly force if he “reasonably believes [it] is necessary to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave the premises or motor vehicle.”
In a protest and press conference in New Orleans on Friday, NAACP leaders called for justice. “We are here demanding answers. This has to stop,” said Gaylor Spiller, president of the West Jefferson Parish branch of the NAACP.
“We think a black man was lynched yesterday,” added Morris Reed, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP.
McKnight was a high school football legend who entered powerhouse USC in 2007 hyped as “the next Reggie Bush” — a reference to the Trojans running back who won the Heisman Trophy just two years prior. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, sheriffs said McKnight was not armed at the time he was killed.
We’re at a complete loss for words.