A press conference held by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Norman, to address questions surrounding the investigation of former NFL running back Joe McKnight’s murder and subsequent release of killer Ronald Gasser, did little to calm the community and left observers with more questions.
Most puzzling to those following the case was the decision to release Gasser, the 54-year old white male that shot and killed McKnight, hours after the killing took place. Attempting to tread the fine line between bias and obligation, Normand offered the following statement.
“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.”
It is unclear what rush to judgement Norman is referring to since no one, including Gasser, is disputing who the shooter was. Further adding fuel to the fire of an already confusing public address, Sheriff Norman revealed that McKnight’s primary father figure was an employee of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff Department.
“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.”
How this investigation unfolds will be tricky in the coming months. The disclosure of McKnight’s father as an employee of the department makes it easy for Gasser future defense team to move for a mistrial or an appeal due to the obvious conflict of interest.
Whether the shooting has a racial component or not, Gasser belongs in jail until trial. Releasing him in the immediate aftermath a murder, he without question committed, is mind boggling.