The man who shot and killed former USC standout and NFL fourth-round pick Joe McKnight, 56-year-old Ronald Gasser, has been found guilty of manslaughter, according to the Associated Press.
Gasser had been charged with second-degree murder, which carried a life sentence, but manslaughter could land him in jail for zero to 40 years, per the report.
Aggressive driving on a bridge by McKnight led Gasser to follow him off an exit that wasn’t his own. As tension rose, McKnight exited his vehicle and spoke to Gasser at the man’s passenger side window. That’s when Gasser shot McKnight, per the report.
According to NOLA.com, an argument at the intersection resulted in McKnight being shot.
“A witness, who declined to give her name, said she was leaving a store in the area when she saw a man at the intersection yelling at another man, who was trying to apologize. The man who was yelling shot the other man more than once, she said.
She said the shooter shot the man, stood over him and said “I told you don’t you f— with me.” Then he fired again, she said.”
The incident follows the “stand your ground law” in Louisiana states, “A homicide is justifiable . . . [w]hen committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger,” per Pro Football Talk. Gasser maintains he was fearful of McKnight entering his vehicle.
Sentencing is expected for March 15, but Gasser’s attorney noted they plan to appeal.
McKnight, the former No. 1 running back in the nation, played three seasons at USC, registering 2,213 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. McKnight also played four years in the NFL after he was drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets. He last appeared in the NFL in 2014 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
McKnight was working on his football career before his untimely death, appearing on two Canadian Football League teams earlier this season.