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The man accused of killing former NFL player Joe McKnight was charged with manslaughter on Tuesday, but it’s Louisiana Sheriff Newell Normand‘s bizarre rant that has everyone talking.

During a news conference announcing the charges, Normand repeated a series of offensive phrases and racially insensitive remarks levied against him, adding another level of perceived bias at a time when inequality in the criminal justice system is in the spotlight.

Morris Reed, president of the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP, spoke with Roland Martin Wednesday on NewsOne Now about the incident.

Reed was pleased with the arrest of Ronald Gasser, the man accused in McKnight’s fatal shooting last week during a road rage incident in Terrytown, Louisiana, but said the sheriff should have immediately charged Gasser instead of releasing him. He was later charged with manslaughter.

“The sheriff usurped the authority of a judicial official by setting himself up as police officer and then judge or magistrate,” Reed said. “It was a decision [that should have been made] by the magistrate as to what the bond would be and ultimately to release Gasser. [The decision] should not have been by the sheriff.”

Normand read racially explicit letters criticizing his office, Reed said, “The sheriff’s behavior was certainly erratic. It would appear as though he became overwhelmed by the entire investigation…It’s unfortunate and it was certainly not a professional performance or appearance.”

Attorney A. Scott Bolden, former chair of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party, said, “The emotional part of the press conference was highly inappropriate because the focus ought to have been on the investigation and the hard work that was done.” 

Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University, said the sheriff should not have used “the letters that [are] extensively Black people calling other people Uncle Toms to try to back himself up.”

Watch Roland Martin, Morris Reed, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss Sheriff Normand’s explicit tirade in the video clip above.

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


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Louisiana Sheriff’s Bizarre Race Rant Clouds Justice For Joe McKnight  was originally published on