Will Smith

The tragic and unsettling death of former NFL defensive end Will Smith

Salvador DelVecchio, staff writer

On April 9, 2016, Will Smith, ex-NFL defensive end, was involved in a road rage incident between another man that cost him his life and severely wounded his wife, Racquel.

What began as a lovely day at the French Quarter Festival turned into a nightmare for the Smith family.  At 9:45 p.m., Will Smith, his wife, former Saints team captain Billy Ceravolo, former teammate Pierre Thomas, as well as a sports agent and the former owner of the restaurant, were dining late at a high-end restaurant.  At 11:15 p.m., they left the restaurant in a silver Mercedes Benz along with a Silver Impala (Smith and his family were in the Benz).  The waiter did not notice any differences in their behavior after the meal.  The only alcohol consumed was wine in which they shared three bottles between themselves.  Officials will release the toxicology test in the upcoming weeks determining whether or not the group was under the influence.

At 11:21 p.m., Smith’s Benz pulled up to a stop light behind an orange Mercedes Benz. Smith stopped his car abruptly, possibly hitting the orange Benz.  The orange Benz proceeded to pull over to the side of the road, while Smith sped away.  The orange Benz pursuited Smith and called 911.  Ten minutes later, the orange Benz intentionally rear-ended Smith’s car.  No one was injured in the accident.  Smith then proceeded to exit the vehicle and exchanged words with the man (Smith claimed he had a gun in the car, but otherwise, that was the only excerpt heard and reported from their conversation).

At 11:29 p.m., witnesses report shots and Smith’s wife contacted authorities, clearly in peril repeatedly saying that she and her husband had been shot.  Smith received eight bullets to the back and his wife received two bullets to the leg.  Authorities pronounce Smith dead at scene and escort his wife to the hospital.  The man, Hayes, is apprehended and claims he was acting in “self-defense,” but is charged with second degree murder.

There are many holes in this story.  One question being whether or not Smith and his associates were intoxicated, and if so, if that contributed to the escalation of the incident.  Another question that looms is when too far is too far.  Smith was shot eight times.  Some would say that’s a little overboard considering nowadays a .45 caliber handgun carries from 8-13 rounds per clip. Thus meaning that the shooter would of have to empty his clip, then reload, and shot Smith’s wife who was un-armed and half his weight.  The other oddity of this story is that Hayes did not realize who he had shot until the next day.  When he was told he shot Smith, he felt terrible saying that he “idolized” Smith growing up.

After careful consideration, here are the assumed facts.  Smith and his friends rear-ended Hayes by accident.  Though authorities will not confirm it for another few weeks, it is most likely Smith had too much drink, and was slightly intoxicated.  Hayes then demanded that Smith pull over, but Smith refused, and in a fit of rage, Hayes pursued Smith and called the police.  Upon arriving at the upcoming stop light, Hayes rear-ended Smith’s car on purpose.  Smith, then angered, exited the car to have a few words with the man.  Smith would have been enraged, possibly fueling ballistic tensions (Smith was known for being a hothead, he was charged with domestic violence several years ago).  The conversation went south when Smith threatened he had a gun in the car.  When Smith turned around and began walking towards the car, Hayes felt in danger possibly believing Smith was going to retrieve his gun.  Hayes acted in fear and shot Smith eight times in the back, and then proceeded to believe the passenger was armed with the gun Smith was going to retrieve, and shot her in the leg two times.  When Hayes realized what he had done, he immediately broke down, and was arrested and charged with second degree murder.   In the upcoming months, you will hear whether or not Hayes is charged with second degree murder, or manslaughter.