… and the footballer had been dining with an officer named in the lawsuit just hours before
Former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith, 34, was shot dead last night
Alleged gunman Cardell ‘Bear’ Hayes was arrested at the scene
He was suing the city over the police shooting of his father in 2005
Among officers named in the suit was former NOPD captain Billy Ceravolo
Ceravolo dined with Hayes and friend Pierre Thomas just before shooting
Smith’s wife Racquel R. Joseph Smith was shot twice in the leg but is alive
Hayes was charged with second-degree murder and held on $1million bond
Former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, 34, was shot dead on Saturday night
A former police chief who dined with New Orleans Saints star Will Smith just hours before his death was named in a lawsuit by the alleged shooter, it has emerged. Smith, 34, was shot dead on Saturday night and his wife Racquel, also 34, was shot twice in the right leg in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District.
He was killed after exchanging words with the driver of a Hummer H2 that rear-ended his Mercedes G63 SUV, causing him to strike another vehicle, police said.
Cardell ‘Bear’ Hayes has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Just one hour before his death, Smith was seen in a photo online with former New Orleans Police Department commander Billy Ceravolo and former New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas.
There is now speculation that the shooting was a revenge attack after it emerged that Ceravolo was named in Hayes’ lawsuit against the city for a police shooting that killed his father in 2005.
Hayes’ ex-attorney confirmed that the former police captain was one of the defendants in Hayes’ case against the city after his father was shot dead by police 11 years ago.
Ceravolo – a 25-year veteran of the force who retired in 2013 and was friends with Smith and Thomas – told WWLTV he was not at the scene of the shooting.
He added that he was not aware that Hayes had named him in his federal lawsuit.
Smith (right) was pictured dining with former New Orleans Police Department commander Billy Ceravolo (left) and former New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (center) before his death. The alleged gunman was suing New Orleans over the police shooting of his father and named Ceravolo in the legal documents.Smith died slumped behind the wheel of his car but his wife, who was shot in the leg twice, was transported to a nearby hospital and is expected to recover. She came out of surgery and was ‘doing well’ this evening
Hayes’ allegedly mentally unstable father, Anthony, got into an argument with an employee at a pharmacy while holding a pocket knife in 2005.
Police said he lunged at an officer and sergeants Jeffrey Walls and Jeffrey Hochman and officer Gary Kessel shot him dead.
A judge later ruled that legal force was justified.
Hayes was suing the city and named six officers in the shooting, according to Fox News, saying non-lethal force such as a stun gun should have been used to subdue his father, but police did not have them.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Hayes’ son had sought $4million in damages.
That case was settled in 2011 for an undisclosed ‘large’ sum, attorney Ike Spears said.
Police had no information to suggest that the fatal shooting of Hayes’ father in 2005 had any link to the killing of Smith, NOPD superintendent Michael Harrison said.
‘Our investigation continues as to motive of the shooting, and whether or not Smith and Hayes knew each other prior to this incident,’ Harrison said.
Hayes was arrested (pictured) at the scene of Smith’s murder for allegedly fatally shooting Smith and shooting his wife Racquel Joseph Smith in the leg
Ceravolo (right), who considered Smith (left) and Thomas ‘personal friends’, said he did not know he was named in the lawsuitAnthony Hayes (circled in 2005) was shot and killed by New Orleans police in 2005 after they say he lunged at them with a pocket knife
Ceravolo (circled) served the New Orleans Police Department for 25 years and was captain of the force when he was named in the lawsuit. He retired from the NOPD in 2013. Hayes was arrested after he rear-ended Smith’s car and allegedly shot the Super Bowl winner multiple times.
The crash, which happened around 11.30pm Saturday night, caused Smith’s $115,400 Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV to rear-end the Chevy Impala in front of him, driven by his friend, according to CBS News. Smith then walked over to confront Hayes and the two men exchanged words, NOLA.com reported.
It is unclear when Smith walked back to his car after confronting the 28-year-old, but Hayes allegedly pulled out a handgun and unleashed a barrage of bullets at Smith and his wife, Racquel R. Joseph Smith.
Smith died slumped behind the wheel of his car but his wife, who was shot in the leg twice, was transported to a nearby hospital and is expected to recover. She came out of surgery and was ‘doing well’ this evening.
Officers arrived at the scene within four minutes of the shooting, Harrison said, according to the Advocate.
‘The driver of the Hummer shot Smith multiple times and his 34-year-old wife twice in the right leg,’ NOPD spokesman Juan Barnes said in a statement.
Hayes stayed at the crime scene until police arrived, the New York Daily News reported.
A witness at the scene, Janis Baehr, a tourist in town for the French Quarter Festival, said she was walking near the intersection and heard six to eight gunshots, NOLA.com reported. Smith’s bullet-ridden vehicle was towed away shortly after the shooting by police.
Racquel (pictured, center) was taken in an ambulance to a nearby hospital for the two gunshot wounds to her right leg. She is now recoveringOn his Facebook, Hayes’ profile picture is an image of a red H2 Hummer, which appears to be the same one he hit Smith’s car with
Hayes was booked into the Orleans Parish jail at approximately 9.15am on Sunday and is being held on a $1million bond
Hayes, who also played football and was a top prospect in Louisiana in 2004, waited at the scene where he allegedly shot Smith (right) until police arrived to arrest and charge him
Hayes’ gun was the only one confiscated from the scene and three cars were searched by police. Police are trying to determine whether the handgun was legally owned.
Hayes has been charged with second-degree murder, which implies that police believe the shooting was not premeditated.
He is being held at BKG Booking in New Orleans on a $1million bond and is yet to submit a plea.
He has just one other arrest on his record. He was charged with illegal carrying of a weapon, illegal possession of codeine and possession of drug paraphernalia, among other charges, in 2010, according to NOLA.com.
Hayes pleaded guilty in June 2012 to the weapons charge and possession of codeine.He was given a 5-year prison sentence but it was immediately suspended.
He withdrew his guilty plea the following month and in June 2013 rejected a plea offer from prosecutors.
In January 2014 he pleaded guilty to a reduced weapons charge and to a count of possession of drug paraphernalia and was given a suspended six-month sentence, records show.
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