The man accused of shooting and killing former Jets running back Joe McKnight was released overnight without charges, angering family and civil rights groups.
Ronald Gasser, a 54-year-old telecommunications expert, was questioned and released from custody overnight after allegedly shooting and killing the former NFL player in a New Orleans road-rage incident on Dec. 1, the New York Post reports.
An unnamed witness reportedly saw Gasser yelling at McKnight at a stoplight around 2:45 p.m., and then fired a shot into McKnight. A witness said that after shooting McKnight, Gasser stood over his body and said "I told you don't you f*** with me," then fired again.
Police officials say Gasser stayed at the scene and turned in his gun over to officers, abd was then taken into custody for questioning, according to the Daily Mail. Sheriff Newell Normand said McKnight did not have a gun, and deputies did not find a gun outside McKnight’s vehicle.
“The only thing we know right now, everything else is conjecture, is that Mr. Gasser did in fact shoot Mr. McKnight,” Normand said.
Col. John Fortunato told the Daily News investigators are expected to meet with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office on Dec. 2 to “discuss what, if any, charges will be brought against Mr. Gasser,” saying “There’s no timeline for when this has to be done,” and “We want to get it right.”
Gasser’s family was stunned by the news of the alleged attack, saying he’s “the best guy, the most generous guy” without a violent history.
“I’m speechless at the moment,” said Gasser’s daughter, Candice Gasser-Bua. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened.”
Meanwhile, former teammates and family of the victim have expressed outrage over the release of Gasser, claiming Gasser’s release represented a failure of the criminal justice system.
“It’s got me sick to my stomach,” Shantell Dobard, 41, a relative, told The Times-Picayune. “I’m just disappointed how they just let him go free after he shot to death an unarmed man. The system is so screwed up.”
Former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie took to Twitter with a similar view of the police department, saying “I don’t get it. How in hell do you release someone who killed my brother, my friend a father a son a brother without charging him. Bull Crap.”
“You tell how can a man murder someone go get to sleep in his bed at night. But my brother can’t. What the hell am I to tell my nephew,” read another tweet.
Members of the NAACP West Jefferson Parish branch have also voiced concerns for Gasser’s release, speculating if Gasser, who is white, had been African-American, he would not have walked.
“We think a black man was lynched yesterday,” said Morris Reed, president of the NAACP’s New Orleans chapter, among demands that Gasser remain in jail until the investigation is complete. “We’re demanding answers.”
McKnight, a Louisiana native, was released from the Jets in 2013. He retired from the NFL a year later after sustaining an injury playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Elmo Lee, McKnight’s stepfather, told Daily Mail the former football star was about to be signed by the Minnesota Vikings, after many years of trying to make it back into the league.
"I just want people to know that this was not a troubled kid. The boy was just trying to make it back in the NFL, that's all he wanted to do," he said.
"That was his whole dream since 6 years old. I've been knowing him from 6, and this is just senseless, and it has to stop. Somewhere it has to stop."