LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A 54-year-old man who admitted shooting dead former NFL player Joe McKnight in a road rage incident last week has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, authorities in Louisiana said Tuesday (Dec 6).
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said Ronald Gasser was detained on Monday following the death of former New York Jets player McKnight on Thursday.
Local law enforcement had last week triggered outrage after Gasser, who was arrested at the scene of the shooting and confessed to shooting McKnight, had been released on bail.
Sheriff Newell Normand told a news conference on Tuesday that the decision to release Gasser had been taken in order to gather as much evidence as possible without witnesses being tainted.
"We have an obligation to get it right," Normand told reporters. "For those who have criticized us - tough, I don't care. I can put my head on the pillow at night knowing we can do the right thing."
Normand said an initial eyewitness account which said Gasser swore at McKnight before shooting him as he attempted to apologise had been shown to be false.
"Shame on that individual," Normand said of the witness who had been quoted extensively in reports of the incident.
There was no also evidence the shooting by Gasser, who is white, had been racially motivated, Normand added.
"Not a single witness has said up to this day that there was one racial slur uttered during the course of these events and unfortunately, a life was lost," said Normand, who said the killing occurred after a traffic dispute between the two men.
"What we had were two adult males engaged in unacceptable behaviour 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 behaviour and bad spoken words," Normand said.
McKnight played for four years in the NFL with the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs.
He played this past season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League where he ran for a total of 228 yards on 38 carries.
McKnight also played college football with the University of Southern California Trojans.