In a press conference detailing the arrest in the shooting death of Joe McKnight, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand laid out the investigative strategy leading to the arrest of Ronald Gasser.
Norman also took no prisoners in excoriated critics who criticized his strategy and sent racially charged text messages to African-American community leaders who counseled patience in the investigation.
Gasser was arrested on a charge of manslaughter. His bond is currently set at $500,000.
Normand said releasing Gasser after his initial questioning gave investigators additional time to find witnesses and collect evidence.
Gasser was questioned for over 10 hours and attempted to lay out a “stand your ground” defense.
Normand says one of the initial witnesses investigators spoke to told them a false story and that it took deputies having to track down people using their license plate numbers, who were captured on nearby surveillance video, to get an accurate account of what really happened.
Normand said Gasser shot Joe McKnight after a road rage incident that began on the Crescent City Connection.
McKnight was apparently driving erratically and may have cut Gasser off.
Then Gasser did the same thing to McKnight, Normand said.
Gasser followed McKnight to Behrman and Holmes in Terrytown where McKnight got out of his car and confronted Gasser.
It was then that Gasser shot McKnight.
The sheriff wouldn’t reveal what was said between the two although he said Gasser felt threatened by McKnight’s statements.
McKnight didn’t have a gun on his body at the time of the shooting.
There was a gun in the car McKnight was driving. Normand said both the gun and the car belong to McKnight’s step-father.
In the “totality of his statement”, there were a number of things Gasser said that didn’t add up, Normand said.
It was over the weekend witnesses came forward that contradicted the witness statements and collected right after the shooting.
Normand said he had little concern for the critics who questioned releasing Gasser after questioning him in the aftermath of the shooting. He said he was “very disappointed” with some citizens in Jefferson Parish and around the country for their reaction to the shooting.
“For those who have criticized us and our decisions, tough. I don’t care. I know we did the right thing for the right reasons,” Normand said.
Over and over again, Normand stressed his strategy was to prevent some people from making the case into something that it wasn’t and urging patience.
Investigators identified over 260 people to interview. Normand said police talked to over 70 business owners in the area trying to retrieve video.
“Justice has no time period. It is not a sprint, but a marathon,” Normand said explaining his reason for delaying Gasser’s arrest.
Also later today, a group of ministers has also scheduled a press conference and vigil at St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Gretna at 11 a.m.