Today Jefferson (Louisiana) Parish Sheriff Newell Normand gave a press conference on the investigation into the death of NFL player Joe McKnight in a road rage shooting last week. The press conference was to announce the arrest of a guy named Ronald Gasser on manslaughter charges in McKnight’s death. The incident was, as these often are, tragic and banal. I don’t follow this type of story as a matter of principle but sometimes these cases speak to a larger problem than the actual case at hand and this press conference it a prime example.
…”What we had were two adult males engaged in unacceptable behavior who did not understand how to deal with conflict resolution, and this thing went to a point that unfortunately led to incredibly tragic consequences over bad driving behavior and bad spoken words.”
Normand said the two men were both driving erratically for some time before they ended up at an intersection in Terrytown. He said McKnight at some time cut off Gasser’s vehicle, and that enraged Gasser. They were yelling at each other and continued to drive erratically down the Crescent City Connection, General DeGalle and the Berman Highway. When they stopped at the intersection where McKnight died, they continued to scream at each other through their windows, and then McKnight got out of his vehicle, the sheriff said.
As they were yelling at each other through the window, Gasser claims he became afraid, then pulled out his gun and shot McKnight three times, the sheriff said. Gasser got out of his vehicle and used a “police sweeping position” to go around to see what McKnight was doing. A naval officer then approached Gasser, and “suggested him he didn’t want to shoot a military officer, to put the gun in your pocket.” Gasser did that. By that time, a deputy had arrived and the deputy and the naval officer began to do CPR on McKnight.
There was a gun in McKnight’s car – but the gun and the car belonged to his stepfather, and there’s no evidence at all that McKnight ever referred to the gun or threatened to use it, the sheriff said.
But the real focus of the press conference was on social media craziness over the investigation. Gasser was detained at the scene and then questioned without being placed under arrest. He was released some hours after the shooting and only after the sheriff’s department had completed their investigation did they arrest him. Sheriff Normand unloaded on the people who seem to have been threatening violence unless the investigation went according to their plan.
Gasser is white. McKnight was black. Gasser is free. McKnight is dead: https://t.co/asVdp7sjre
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 3, 2016
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) December 2, 2016
and in particular on one rumor:
I just can’t not address some other issues that I am very much disappointed in the conduct of some of the citizens of not only this parish but this country. And at some point in time we’re going to have to come to grips with and begin to talk about this dialog and this rhetoric that’s going on in this country.
We started Thursday afternoon with a witness who lied. A witness who said [shooting suspect Ronald] Gasser got out of his car, popped cap through the windshield of Joe McKnight’s car, yanked him out of the car, and popped him again while he was on the ground saying he had voted for Donald Trump and he was going to show him… relative to that… and we were off and running.
And you know why? Because some people wanted that story to be true. And it’s what compelled me to have this press conference on Friday, to try to bring a sense of calm and reasonableness to this and to try to create a distraction from that because that was furthest from the truth.
Thursday night we were busy talking to witnesses. We had yet to run search warrants on the two vehicles in order to begin the forensic process of processing those vehicles and we are off and running. We are off and running.
That particular witness told three different stories in the span of an hour. Shame on that individual. Shame on that individual.
And that started something going down a path that we collectively should be ashamed of ourselves. We began criticizing people just asking for pause. Let the process take its course. But, no, that wasn’t enough. We had to make demands. We want justice now. And if we don’t get it now and we don’t get it our way we’re going to start saying things and doing things until we get it our way. It’s not about the right thing. It’s not about justice. And it’s not about the process. It’s about what we want and what we want now. And we don’t care who we disparage in the process.
He even gave some examples of the comments directed at him that were so NSFW that networks cut away.
The sheriff is right but I’m not terribly sure it is relevant. Social media has given imbeciles, like those in the tweets I quoted, a megaphone. What it hasn’t given them is their the breeding or conscience an actual mother would have imparted or the assk-kicking that they didn’t get in high school that would have improved their behavior if not their character. We are also seeing the end result of justice as it was pushed by Barack Obaam, Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch. If the any crime involves a politically volatile series of factors (middle aged white guy, black NFL player, the South, a stand your ground law, this case is a cornucopia for the #BLM people) then it is perfectly acceptable to descend into lynch law where someone has to be punished to assuage hurt feelings.