The man who shot former NFL running back Joe McKnight has not been charged yet. But he still could be.
Jefferson Parish sheriff Newell Normand told reporters on Friday that the investigation will proceed in a “deliberate” and “credible” way, with no “rush to judgment.”
“If you do not dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ and there are deficiencies in what you do from an investigatory standpoint, it has dire consequences,” Sheriff Normand said.
Sheriff Normand also advised caution regarding the use of social media, and he said that any demonstrations regarding the incident must comply with all state and local laws.
“I would ask the community to pause and reflect that if you start with ‘I feel,’ that is a slippery slope,” Sheriff Normand said. “It’s what the evidence suggests, what the evidence reveals, and what the evidence is.”
Sheriff Normand added that the shooter, Ronald Gasser, did not stand over McKnight. Gasser, according to Sheriff Normand, was in his car when the shots were fired. The shell casings, Normand said, were in the car.
Also, Sheriff Normand said there is no video of the shooting, and no witness account of any “apology” being made by McKnight to Gasser.
The reference to the shots being fired by Gasser while in his car brings into play Louisiana’s “Kill the Carjacker” law, an extension of the “stand your ground” law that allows for a person to use deadly force to defend himself while in a vehicle. And this could set the stage for Gasser never being charged or, if he’s charged, acquitted of any crime that he may have allegedly committed.
Responding to questions from the media, Sheriff Normand made it clear that Gasser was released from custody because of Louisiana laws that make certain homicides justified.
“The easiest thing for me [to say] would have been, ‘Book him, Danno,'” Sheriff Normand said. “Right? But the fact of the matter is is that in trying to flesh out these details as it relates to all of this and not having that rush to judgment and doing this in a very deliberate and appropriate fashion, we chose not to do that.”
Next came a surprising disclosure from Sheriff Normand.
“Of course, where that leads us at this point in time is that everybody wants to make this about race,” Sheriff Normand said. “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.”
Sheriff Normand’s comments indicate that the shooter may not have been aware that the man who raised Joe McKnight previously was a deputy in Jefferson Parish. And that could be a problem for the investigation, because there’s a chance that no amount of effort to ensure a fair investigation guarantees that it will be.
Indeed, a conflict of interest has arisen, which could require the authorities to take steps aimed at ensuring the conflict doesn’t impact the decision.