On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Ronald Gasser Jr. for the deadly shooting of former NFL player Joe McKnight. Gasser was handed down a second-degree murder charge.
If Gasser, 54, is convicted he will be facing life in prison without a chance of parole.
The confrontation between Gasser and McKnight began around 2:45 p.m. after both men cut each other off while driving and zipping in front of each other. According to authorities, Gasser became irate and got into a verbal fight with McKnight. When they both stopped at a red light next to each other, McKnight got out of his car and approached the window of Gasser’s car. Gasser then pulled out a handgun from between his seat and the console and shot McKnight three times.
McKnight, 28, was a star running back at the University of Southern California and later played for the Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. His death sparked several protests.
McKnight’s former teammates and supporters were upset after the police initially freed Gasser. Authorities stated that Gasser admitted to the shooting on Dec.1. However, he wasn’t arrested and charged until four days later.
Initially, Gasser was charged with manslaughter after the authorities described his deadly incident with McKnight as a “road rage” confrontation in Terrytown, La.
“Subsequent to that arrest, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office continued working together in a collaborative effort to develop additional evidence regarding the case. Today’s indictment comes as a result of that joint effort,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday.
Gasser’s bond was also increased to $750,000.
Critics were angered at Gasser’s delayed arrest and initial charge. They stated he might have been afforded more leeway because he is white or that the authorities were less invested in getting swift justice for a black man’s death.
Sheriff Newell Normand of Jefferson Parish stood behind the pace of the investigation, saying that the authorities needed more time to build a better case in a state that has Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.
According to Sheriff Normand, investigators spoke to Gasser for more than 12 hours and conducted more than 160 interviews.
“Justice has no time period. Justice is not a sprint. It is a marathon. These investigations are marathons,” said Sheriff Normand.