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Joe McKnight's Killer Arrested, Jailed on Manslaughter Charge

Ronald Gasser has (finally) been charged with manslaughter after shooting and killing the former NFL running back in Louisiana last Thursday.

Sean Newell

Screengrab via CBS New Orleans

According to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, Ronald Gasser shot and killed former NFL running back Joe McKnight, firing three shots into McKnight's body from his car last Thursday afternoon. Gasser waited for police to arrive, cooperated, and confessed to murdering the former local football star. Then, Normand released Gasser later that evening with no charges pending, and did not really have any explanation why, despite a rambling 25-minute press conference the next day. He merely said they were operating out of an abundance of caution to preserve the integrity of the investigation. Now WDSU, the local NBC affiliate, reports that Gasser was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Monday, according to court records,and is in police custody.

There is a Stand Your Ground element to the case that Normand declined to get too far into during his press conference, but he did acknowledge that the defense "loom[ed] on the horizon." It could maybe explain why Gasser was released despite admitting to shooting and killing another person in the middle of the street in broad daylight, but given the fact that Gasser is white and his victim is black, it was hard to accept Normand's claim that the whole thing wasn't "about race." On top of that, McKnight was killed in Terrytown, six miles away from the Jefferson Parish seat of Gretna, which a recent Fusion analysis called "the arrest capital of America." So Gasser's release caused some considerable backlash.

During his press conference, Normand said he could not discuss why Gasser was released at that point in the investigation "but I can tell you I can't wait for the moment so that I can set the record straight."

It seems the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office got two more days into their investigation and felt confident enough to charge Gasser with the lesser offense of manslaughter for shooting an unarmed black man in the street through the open passenger window, from the driver's seat of his car. McKnight was 28 years old.