NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand explained in detail the combative minutes before Joe McKnight’s killing.
Normand laid out the most detailed account of the shooting yet during a lengthy press conference that verged into the profane as Normand read printouts of apparent social media posts criticizing his decision to release accused McKnight killer Ronald Gasser shortly after the incident.
Gasser was arrested and charged with manslaughter four days after admitting to shooting McKnight at a busy intersection after an apparent road rage incident.
The altercation that led to McKnight’s shooting began on the afternoon of Thursday, December 1, around the entrance to the Crescent City Connection in New Orleans, Normand said.
“Both individuals [were] driving erratically – not necessarily engaged yet,” he said. “We have a witness that says that Mr. McKnight was driving erratically across the bridge. At some point in time, he possibly cut Mr. Gasser off. Mr. Gasser, in his statement, says that he was irritated by that, and set out after Mr. McKnight.”
Both men took the General DeGaulle exit and “engaged each other many times” on General DeGaulle Drive before exiting down Behrman Highway, Normand said.
Both drivers engaged in aggressive behavior that Normand said included cutting one another off, zipping in and out of traffic, and cutting off other drivers, as they headed down Behrman.
“…Mr. Gasser was able to get in front of Mr. McKnight at the red light at Holmes and Behrman,” Normand said. “Mr. McKnight pulls around on the right hand side, comes to a stop on the side of Mr. Gasser’s car at Holmes and Behrman.”
Gasser’s car was completely penned in by traffic when he finally came to a stop.
“Mr. Gasser is hemmed in and does not have an avenue for retreat, as it relates to his vehicle,” Normand said. “The windows are rolled down, and they began to enter into a verbal altercation while still being in each other’s car.”
McKnight exited his car, approached Gasser’s driver side window, which was rolled down, and that’s when the situation turned deadly.
“At some point in time during that verbal altercation, Mr. Gasser pulls his weapon from between the seat and the console, and fires three shots Joe McKnight, killing him,” Normand said.
Normand declined to reveal details of Gasser’s statement, but said Gasser did report fearing for his life.
“Two people engaged in bad behavior that day,” Normand said. “Why? I don’t know.”