Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a press conference to address the fatal shooting of former NFL player Joe McKnight, killed in an alleged road rage incident outside New Orleans, Louisiana, on Dec. 1.
The event, supposed to be a briefing on the ongoing investigation, turned out to be an attack on all those criticizing the police’s efforts.
The sheriff’s department detained Ronald Gasser, a white man, for shooting and killing the former African-American running back. However, they released him hours later, after he admitted to killing McKnight, drawing immediate criticism from across the country.
Protests were held and members of the community organized candle light vigils for McKnight, as it appeared to be yet another case where a white suspect would go free after killing a black man.
On Monday (four days after the incident), the authorities arrested the 54-year-old suspect and charged him with one count of manslaughter.
During the bizarrely contentious press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Normand went on an unhinged rant against the critics and their opinions on his handling of the McKnight investigation.
He alleged that the shooting “isn’t about race,” and went on to read several explicit emails and tweets he received in the aftermath of the incident, liberally using various racial and homophobic slurs.
This press conference...?? pic.twitter.com/2XqgV2FNFv— Carolyn??Snowfield (@NewsCarolyn) December 6, 2016
In fact, the whole thing was so inappropriate and expletive-filled that MSNBC had to interrupt its live coverage.
“I’m disappointed in the conduct of the citizens not only of this parish but of this country,” Normand said. “At some point we’re going to have to start a conversation about the dialogue going on in this country.”
He continued to praise his officers, saying it is not fair for them to be called “punk-a** Uncle Tom c**n” and “rat-a** f****t punk.” He also seemed to be rather enjoying using the N-word over and over again.
The sheriff said that at the time of Gasser’s release, the department did not have statements from key witnesses — one of whom claimed McKnight was apologizing to the motorist when he shot him three times.
“Shame on you,” he added, addressing those who have challenged his department. “It’s not really anymore about this case. It’s about all the other cases that have yet to come. We better reflect and look at ourselves in the mirror and decide what we’re going to be about in our community. Are we going to continue to tear ourselves apart?”
As for the shooting, Normand believes it was not race-related because the perpetrator allegedly did not use any racial slurs during the incident. In fact, he described it as “two people engaged in bad behavior,” explaining how Gasser chased McKnight after the former player cut him off on the road.
When a reporter asked if the sheriff could sympathize with many African-Americans who fear being killed and the lack of justice that follows, Normand called it “misdirected” and cited black-on-black crime and murder statistics — the oldest trick in the book — to back up his argument.
For someone who claims not to care about what his critics say, Newell Normand seems pretty angry about people criticizing him.— Christina Stephens (@CEStephens) December 6, 2016
Watch the complete press conference below.
Fair warning: the video contains explicit language.