Police are still investigating the Saturday shooting that left former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith dead, and though there is little information to show the suspect — identified as Cardell Hayes — knew Smith prior to the incident, something else links the two.
A New Orleans police officer.
In a bit of information the police are considering in their investigation, it was revealed that Smith was dining with former police officer William Ceravolo at the Sake Cafe in New Orleans before the shooting. Ceravolo was named in a lawsuit filed by Hayes a decade ago in reference to the police shooting of his own father.
Ceravolo confirmed with ABC News that he was dining with Smith the night of the shooting.
From ABC News:
Hayes filed a lawsuit in 2006 against the city of New Orleans and several New Orleans police officers — including Ceravolo — in connection with the deadly shooting of his father, Anthony Hayes.
Anthony Hayes was carrying a knife when he was shot by officers in December 2005, according to the suit. The New Orleans Advocate reported that the case was settled in 2011 for an undisclosed amount of money.
Hayes’ attorney, John Fuller, has come forward to defend his client, saying he was not the aggressor in the case. He has only addressed the link as a “coincidence,” stating that Hayes had no idea Smith was at dinner with Ceravolo, a detail corroborated by New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison who said, “There’s no indication that any of this played a factor in Saturday’s shooting,” Fox6Now writes:
Fuller said Sunday that his client’s actions tell a different story. Hayes called 911 before the shooting, he secured a witness who was leaving the scene, and he remained at the scene after the shooting until authorities arrived, Fuller said. Police have said they took 4 minutes to reach the scene.
“Now, tell me if that’s the behavior that’s consistent with someone who’s an animal out here looking for blood,” he said. “His actions are totally consistent with someone that is complying with a police investigation.” He described Hayes as soft-spoken, easily approachable and “a lot nicer than he appears.”
Fuller went further, saying the narrative provided to the media by police is inaccurate. He also claimed that Hayes was not the only one with a firearm that night.
According to police, the incident unfolded when Smith’s Mercedes SUV was rear-ended while leaving dinner, causing him to hit an Impala in front of him. Hayes, who was in an orange Hummer H2, “exchanged words” with Smith. Police said Hayes then produced a handgun, shooting Smith several times. Hayes was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder.
Smith’s wife sustained non-life threatening injuries as a result of the shooting.
Police aren’t throwing out the curious link while they investigate a motive. In the meantime, a judge set bond for the 28-year-old suspect at $1 million.
Smith, who was voted into the Saints Hall of Fame last month, is survived by his wife and three children.