US & Canada

Joe McKnight shooting: Driver charged in ex-NFL star's death

Ronald Gasser Image copyright AP
Image caption Ronald Gasser was sitting in his car and shot the former NFL player three times during a traffic confrontation, said authorities

A Louisiana sheriff has announced charges against a man who shot dead a former National Football League player last week near New Orleans.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said that Ronald Gasser, 54, was facing a count of manslaughter for allegedly shooting Joe McKnight, 28.

Mr Gasser spoke to police at the crime scene, but was not immediately charged.

Sheriff Normand gave more details on last Thursday's road rage row that escalated to McKnight being shot.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr McKnight is the second former professional football player to die in an apparent road-rage incident in New Orleans this year

"Justice has no time period. Justice is not a sprint, it is a marathon", Sheriff Normand said, repeatedly slamming his fist on a podium on Tuesday as he angrily rebuked claims that the arrest had been delayed because the driver was white.

"This isn't about race. Not a single witness has said... a single racial slur was uttered," the sheriff added.

According to the sheriff, the two men found themselves in a "verbal altercation" while stopped at a red light.

Mr McKnight left his vehicle to continue the argument when Gasser, who was still sitting in his car, pulled out a pistol and shot the former NFL player three times, said the sheriff.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Sheriff Normand shared with the media some of the insults that had been levelled at him in recent days

"This isn't about race," the sheriff said, adding that "two people engaged in bad behaviour that day. Why? I don't know."

Sheriff Normand said Mr Gasser, who is white, remained at the scene after the shooting and handed over his gun to police.

He was taken into custody, but initially released.

Mr McKnight, who was black, did not have a gun in his possession and officers did not find a gun outside his vehicle, police have said.

Gasser was arrested on Monday on manslaughter charges, and is being held on a $500,000 (£395,000) bond.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police spoke to Gasser but declined to arrest him after the shooting

Sheriff Normand thanked the McKnight family for their patience and said investigators had conducted more than 160 witness interviews, which he said might not have been possible if police had made an immediate arrest.

"People don't think that we know what we're doing strategically… tough. I don't care," the sheriff said in a 50-minute long press conference.

Joe McKnight played three seasons with the New York Jets and one season with the Kansas City Chiefs after attending the University of Southern California.

He also played in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015 and was on this year's roster for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

On Monday night the New York Jets held a moment of silence for him before their game against the Indianapolis Colts.