Responding to community outrage that the Louisiana man who shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight in an alleged road-rage incident had initially been set free, Jefferson Parish sheriff Newell Normand went on a explicit, slur-laden tirade during a Tuesday press conference in defense of officials' actions.
After confessing to fatally shooting McKnight, a black man, multiple times on Thursday, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, who is white, was questioned by the New Orleans Jefferson Paris sheriff's department before being released "sometime overnight" with no charges filed at the time—"a decision that prompted demonstrations and outrage on social media," according to The New Orleans Advocate.
Some of the more offensive expressions of that outrage were read on live TV by Normand during the Tuesday morning press conference, after it was reported that Gasser had been arrested and charged with manslaughter.
His response shocked observers who were taken aback by the language as well as his defensiveness. As many noted, Normand unflinchingly repeated offensive, racist remarks to discuss a case already facing criticisms of racial bias.
Watch the press conference below. (Warning: explicit language)
#JoeMcKnight Sheriff Normand found the worst social media statements 2 read out loud. He is mad that he had to arrest that white man. ijs
— Ashton P. Woods (@AshtonPWoods) December 6, 2016
So, yeah. Newell Normand basically gave a giant "Fuck All of You" to those in NOLA/elsewhere who criticized response to #JoeMcKnight case.
— Francis (@smelllikesugar) December 6, 2016
I don't know what this Sheriff Newell Normand thought he was doing, but it sure as shit wasn't helping.
— Kara Calavera (@KaraCalavera) December 6, 2016
To sum things up. Sheriff Newell Normand has taken a page from Trump and is blasting social media...so professional. #joemcknight
— Mike The Realist (@Mike504ever) December 6, 2016
Wait... JPSO Sheriff Newell Normand said coon, nigger & faggot during presser on the arrest of Ronald Gasser for manslaughter #JoeMcKnight
— Angry Man (@AngryBlkManDC) December 6, 2016
Sheriff Newell Normand is more enraged by hate mail than murder? This guy needs to step down. #joemcknight
— Dani Rumford (@danigirl1207) December 6, 2016
That Newell Normand press conference would have been hilarious if not so real and dangerous.
— Elizabeth Dixon (@elizabeth_dixon) December 6, 2016
Sheriff Newell Normand is poster child of whats wrong with law enforcement.Belief that they are untouchable & above beyond reproach.#msnbc
— NcNative Raleigh (@NcNativeRaleigh) December 6, 2016
Reporting further on the press conference, local outlet KATC noted that Normand laid the blame for the shooting on both the victim as well as the killer.
One reporter asked if he understood where the fear and anger expressed by the black community comes from, and Normand, a white man, said that most of the murders in his parish are the result of black-on-black crime.
"Statistically, your fear is misdirected," Normand said. "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. [...] 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. [...]
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.
The incident comes against a backdrop of national outrage over violence and discrimination against people of color, particularly in cases where law enforcement is involved.