The Jefferson-Parish Sheriff’s office in Louisiana arrested Ronald Gasser on Tuesday after interviewing more than 160 witnesses over the weekend.
In a news conference Tuesday morning Sheriff Newell Normand defended his decision not to hold Gasser in custody.
“There were a number of things that (Gasser) said and alleges that Mr. McKnight did that could have been self-serving,” Normand said. “Thursday night I had nothing to corroborate or nothing to contradict his statement because the witnesses that we had at that point in time didn’t see anything.”
In talking to witnesses, Normand says they have been able to paint a rough picture of what happened in the lead up to McKnight being shot.
Here’s what is known so far, according to the Jefferson-Parish Sheriff’s Office:
Normand said that on Thursday both Gasser and McKnight had been spotted driving erratically. One witness said McKnight may have cut off Gasser.
Gasser said in his witness statement that being cut off angered him and he pursued McKnight.
The altercation between the two last for some time and included tailgating, yelling and abrupt cut offs back and forth before they ended up at the intersection where McKnight was shot.
Normand said that Gasser was in front of McKnight and McKnight pulled up to his right. Gasser’s car was surrounded by other vehicles and he was not able to move from his position at the red light.
The shouting continued through the windows of the two vehicles before McKnight got out of his vehicle and approached Gasser. The arguing continued.
At some point Gasser reached between his seat and the centre console, pulled out his gun and shot McKnight three times.
Normand said he was unwilling to go into details about Gasser’s statement to police, but that it was “replete” with fear over threats that McKnight made toward him.
“That’s why on Thursday evening only faced with and only having Mr. Gasser’s statement that we thought it was best that arrest would not be made for strategic reasons until we could get other witnesses,” Normand said.
Using software that scanned license plates and surveillance footage the sheriff’s office was able to reach more than 100 witnesses to give their account of the story. Normand said many of the independent witnesses they spoke with contradicted some of the things that Gasser told police.
The Sheriff’s office continues to investigate, interview potentially more than 200 witnesses and gather evidence related to the shooting.
“Collectively we felt that manslaughter was the charge that most appropriately fit the evidence we have at this time,” Normand said.
As the investigation continues the district attorney may decide to charge Gasser with a more serious, or less serious crime at a later date, he added.