Will the culpability of one shooter, Ronald Gasser rest on Lousiana’s stand your ground laws? A question of self defense as NFL star Joe McKnight threatened another driver?
In what is beginning to appear as a case of stand your ground, a New Orleans sheriff on Friday told during a press conference that at the time of the Terrytown road rage shooting that claimed the live of ex NFL star Joe McKnight, the footballer was standing at the window of Ronald Gasser’s vehicle.
Addressing reporters, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand dispelled notions that Ronald Gasser the 54 year old white man who fired off three rounds into McKnight had ever stood over McNight yelling, ‘I told you don’t you f*** with me’, before firing again.
Sheriff Normand said instead that Gasser fired three rounds from the driver’s seat of his car with a .40-caliber weapon, through an open passenger window at McKnight, who was standing at the window.
The shooting came after witnesses told of hearing a ‘heated verbal exchange’ between the two men from their cars before a ‘rapid succession’ of gunfire.
Three bullet casings were found in the car. An autopsy found McKnight had a wound to his hand, one to his right nipple and a third to his right shoulder which punctured a lung.
The press brief followed general outrage after police declined to arrest and charge Gasser after fatally firing at McKnight, with police now saying that they are continuing to investigate the road rage shooting, before laying any if at all, charges.
Yet to be necessarily understood is what motivated McKnight to head over to Gasser’s passenger window and whether the footballer’s actions led to Gasser believing his life was in imminent danger, exacting the stand your ground law.
Others wondered if Gasser legitimately felt he was in danger, why in fact he just didn’t call police or drive away? Assuming one has the time or the ability (not boxed in by other cars) to do any of such things?
Also not understood is what McNight may have said to Gasser as he stood by the window, and despite the footballer not carrying a weapon, Gasser nevertheless may have believed at that moment he had no choice but to defend himself, especially if he believed that McKnight was about to force himself into the vehicle.
Still of question is if at any moment Joe McKnight had physically accosted Gasser or was in the process of doing so?
Of note, Louisiana’s stand your ground law dictates: ‘A homicide is justifiable . . . [w]hen committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger,’
‘A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is in a place where he or she has a right to be shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force as provided for in this Section, and may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.’
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) December 2, 2016
Suggesting that the incident in Terrytown could have been sparked by something as simple as one man ‘recklessly’ cutting off the other, Sheriff Normand added there was no witness account of an apology being made by McKnight to Gasser and no video of the incident.
Acknowledging that the department been accused of dropping the ball, Sheriff Normand insisted that Gasser was released because in the state of Louisiana, ‘there are some relative statutes that provide defenses to certain crimes.’
He said that the ‘stand your ground’ law ‘looms on the horizon’ while declining to further elaborate. He added that Gasser was released ‘out of an abundance of caution’.
‘This investigation is not going to be moved, influenced, coerced or changed in any way by any external force, comments or otherwise,’ he said. ‘I can’t control what’s on the social networks, and if we want to be silly, that’s fine.’
Adding: ‘The easiest thing for me would have been “book em, Danno,”, but the fact of the matter is in trying to flesh out these details… we chose not to do that.’
Sheriff Normand also insisted that the attack wasn’t about race, saying no witness has thus far suggested a hate crime.
Said the sheriff: ‘This isn’t about race. And I’ll just throw this out folks so that everybody knows and there’s no hiding the ball. The gentleman that raised Joe McKnight used to work for this office.’
But he threatened to arrest any protesters who threatened to shut down the Western Expressway.
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) December 2, 2016