At around 2:43 p.m. yesterday in the New Orleans suburb of Terrytown, Louisiana, 28 year old Joe McKnight, a professional football player who played three seasons for the New York Jets and one for the Kansas City Chiefs, was brutally gunned down in broad daylight on the side of the road. The shooting came after a dispute he had with an older man stemming from a traffic incident that occurred atop a bridge moments earlier. Despite having just callously murdered another person in cold blood, local police have decided that McKnight’s killer, 54 year old Ronald Gasser (who incidentally is white), should be released to roam the streets again immediately without charge. Now if this isn’t a manifestation of white privilege, what is?
The incident between Joe McKnight and Ronald Gasser, both of whom were driving, appears to have begun when one of the men cut the other one off as they crossed over a bridge. This led to both men pulling over at the intersection of Behram Highway and Holmes Boulevard, apparently to confront each other. What happened afterward is very much in dispute. A supposed witness originally claimed to have seen an injured Joe McKnight lying on the ground after being shot, all the while a screaming Ronald Gasser towered over him. This source claimed that McKnight apologized profusely to his assailant, only to be told, “I told you don’t you fuck with me.” That’s when they claim Gasser fired the fatal shot that ended the 28 year old’s life. This version of events was quickly disputed by authorities and the coroner’s autopsy, however. The coroner claimed the witness’s account is not credible because the wounds on McKnight’s body are not consistent with having been shot from above. Regardless, Joe McKnight was by all accounts the only one of the two men at the scene who was unarmed, and he was shot a total of three times. As described on NOLA.com,
“…one of the three bullets that struck McKnight, 28, entered his chest and traveled through his liver and kidney before exiting out his right lower back. Another bullet struck McKnight in his right shoulder and punctured his lung. The third bullet hit McKnight in his left hand, the coroner said.”
Not even a full day went by before the authorities decided it would be best to let McKnight’s killer go free without charge. That’s right. There will be no charge, and if there were there would be no conviction still. Hell, we aren’t even allowed a lousy mugshot of the guy, something that certainly would have been flashing all over television right now had the shoe been on the other foot. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand was quick to assure everyone that, while no one can come to any conclusions until the police are finished conducting their so-called “investigation”, the one conclusion we can all be sure of is race played absolutely no part in anything whatsoever. “Everybody wants to make this about race,” claims Normand. “This isn’t about race.” In order for that to be believed, however, people would have to forget about or be able to completely disentangle from their lived experiences in the state of Louisiana and the rest of the country at large. After all, Louisiana has by far the largest incarceration rate (and incarcerated population) on the entire planet, due in no small part to Black people being locked away for petty and minor offenses, or defendants not being rich enough to make bail. All the while a white man just shot a Black man to death on the side of the road in broad daylight and didn’t even have to spend a single day in jail. Yeah, “this has nothing to do with race” my ass.
In the meantime, white racists have predictably been coming out of the woodwork to throw their support behind Ronald Gasser, well before they even knew the man’s name. They’re already helping him frame his actions as “self-defense”, citing a little-known Louisiana state law known as the ‘Kill the Carjacker’ law, which apparently doesn’t even take into account whether a car-jacking was actually occurring at all. It gives someone a license to kill as long as they believe they’re being subjected to a carjacking. It sounds suspiciously like yet another excuse to murder unarmed, defenseless people at will and get away with it by claiming it was all in “self-defense.”
UPDATE – TMZ posted the following image of Ronald Gasser which is much clearer than the one that was taken at the scene of the crime:
On top of that, the Sheriff’s department appears to be offering him 24 hour protection.