In wake of Joe McKnight shooting, lawmaker wants to review Stand Your Ground law

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The investigation into the man who admits shooting and killing former NFL player Joe McKnight last week now includes a road-rage incident involving McKnight's shooter, Ronald Gasser, 10 years ago at the same intersection where McKnight was shot to death.

According to the, John Shilling said he is the man Ronald Gasser went off on in Jefferson Parish in 2006. Shilling told the publication that Gasser spat at him and swung at him at a gas station after chasing him on the CCC Bridge following a road rage incident.

Jefferson Parish court documents and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office confirm there was an incident involving Gasser.

Court documents show Gasser was accused of simple battery and that Shilling and a deputy are listed as witnesses.

The Sheriff's Office said Friday that is researching the old incident even as it continues to investigate Gasser's shooting of McKnight. Gasser has not been arrested in the shooting of McKnight.

"It shouldn't have any impact whatsoever as it pertains to his arrests or whether or not the DA charges him with this. It should only be about the facts that happened that day. Having said that, it could get in possibly under 404b to show a pattern of behavior, but even that's a stretch," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

JPSO confirmed that Gasser was involved in an incident on Feb. 20, 2006 that began on Holiday Drive in New Orleans and ended at a service station at the intersection of Holmes Boulevard and Berhman Highway in Terrrytown, which is in Jefferson Parish.

The caller to 911, who turned out to be Shilling, reported that a man was driving a red pickup truck in an unsafe manner.  Shilling said he noticed a phone number on the truck and called it, intending to alert the company. Authorities said an individual, later identified as Ronald Gasser, answered and the two argued.

Shortly thereafter, Shilling pulled into the service station to refuel his vehicle and, according to authorities, Gasser followed him there, confronted him and struck him with a closed fist several times. Gasser then drove away according to JPSO.

Gasser was located later and issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery.

Court documents show at one point Gasser failed to show up for a hearing. But court papers also show that on Nov. 22, 2006 the Jefferson Parish DA's Office dismissed the case. The DA's Office would not comment on the case, but court records indicate the victim, Shilling, was MIA, and that there had been several previous attempts to serve him as the victim with a subpoena, but his home appeared vacant.

All this transpired mere months after Katrina devastated parts of the New Orleans area.

State Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is pleased the Sheriff's Office is reviewing the old case, and added that he will fight in the Legislature to have Louisiana's Stand Your Ground law reviewed to make sure it protects those it is designed to protect.

"On one hand, you certainly want to give people the right to protect themselves, and we in no way want to infringe upon your right to protect your home or your vehicle in case of some type of intrusion, but there has to be a redefining, if you will, of how that works - particularly in a car where you have the option to roll your window up, you have the option to hit the gas pedal and pull off potentially," Carter said.

And Carter wants law enforcement, judges and the community at the table.

"What you don't want to have is have the easiest route taken out that someone walks up to a car to wash your window and you feel threatened, so you shoot them and then the law protects you, you know? So we want to make sure that when it's in fact a carjacking and someone approaches, the person should absolutely have the right to defend themselves …We don't want to become the wild, wild West where you just shoot people because you disagree with them," said Carter.

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