On Thursday of last week, former NFL player Joe McKnight was gunned down in the middle of the day during an alleged road rage incident in Louisiana. Friends, family, fans, and the local community are still mourning the loss of the 28-year-old McKnight. Despite police having obtained a confession, the shooter has been released.
While law enforcement has warned that media reports of the story are inaccurate, witness descriptions provided to the media immediately after explain that the shooter pulled McKnight out of his car, then stood over McKnight and fired three shots. Law enforcement pointed out that McKnight was shot three times, once in the chest, once in the hand, and once in the shoulder.
Why Was McKnight's Killer Released?
McKnight's killer has been released from custody and not charged with any crimes. As the Jefferson Parish Sheriff explained, Louisiana is a stand your ground state and the shooter was released as he asserted self-defense as his justification for the shooting. He claims McKnight approached him and he fired from his vehicle.
McKnight was unarmed and the decision to not charge his killer has caused quite a stir. Common sense would seem that if shots were fired from inside a vehicle, why couldn't he have just driven away? Given the law didn't require he retreat, it seems that whether deadly force was even justifiable should still be investigated and put to a jury to decide. Despite his quick release, the shooter could still be facing criminal charges in the near future if the investigation turns up evidence to contradict his account of the incident.
Stand Your Ground
In states that have stand your ground laws, a person does not have a duty to retreat or run away from an aggressor or attacker. Instead, a person is authorized to use deadly force in self-defense, if threatened with deadly force.
Self-defense does not always allow the use of deadly force. Generally, a person may only use a proportional amount of force to defend themselves. Most states place restrictions on the use of deadly force in self-defense.