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New video appears to show moments before ex-NFL player Smith’s death

  • Paramedics with New Orleans EMS transported Racquel Smith, wife of former New Orleans Saints’ Will Smith, following a shooting in New Orleans late Saturday. The former New Orleans Saints player was fatally shot after a traffic accident. (Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith stretched during practice in Sept. 2011 in Metairie, La. Smith was shot in the back and side, according to a warrant read in court Sunday night in New Orleans before a magistrate set a $1 million bond for the man accused of killing him. Police said Smith, 34, was killed in a case of road rage by a man who had rear-ended his car.

NEW ORLEANS » Newly released surveillance video shows what may have precipitated the shooting death of Saints defensive end Will Smith: Moments earlier, what appears to be his Mercedes SUV can be seen bumping the rear of a Hummer that stopped on a busy street.

The Hummer then pulls over, but rather than stop to inspect for any damage, the Mercedes pulls around it and drives away.

The lawyer for the Hummer-driving Cardell Hayes has said his client was the victim of a hit-and-run just before the shooting. The videotaped encounter happened several blocks from the spot where police say Hayes, now following Smith, hit his Mercedes from behind hard enough to push it into another car carrying Smith’s acquaintances.

Smith and Hayes — who himself played defense in a semi-pro football league — then confronted each other. Witnesses heard a few angry words, quickly followed by gunfire. Smith died with his door open, slumped over the driver’s seat. His wife, Racquel, was wounded in the leg.

The surveillance video from Magazine Street, where the Smiths had eaten dinner at a Japanese restaurant earlier Saturday night — throws another twist into the beloved athlete’s shocking death.

Defense attorney John Fuller has said Hayes called 911 while following the vehicle that hit him, and was trying to read the license plate number moments before their confrontation.

Hayes, 28, is being held on $1 million bond after police arrested him on a charge of second-degree murder. Police plan to add a charge accusing Hayes of shooting Smith’s wife, spokesman Tyler Gamble said Monday.

Gamble would not comment on the new video today, saying: “We continue to canvass the area to obtain and review video surveillance.”

Gamble has said the investigation prevents him from saying whether Hayes called 911 to report a hit-and-run accident.

Fuller insisted outside court Monday that Hayes will be vindicated once the full story emerges. Someone “besides my client” was behaving in a threatening manner, he said, though he wouldn’t say who. “My client has been pilloried, convicted and tried” in the news and on social media, he added.

Questions remain about what exactly happened that night. Police haven’t released the accounts of Racquel Smith, the passengers in the other cars, nor any other witnesses.

The news was hard on Smith’s many fans. The native of Queens, New York, came to New Orleans from Ohio State where he was on the 2002 national championship team, and quickly became a team leader. After retirement, he chose to stay in his adopted community, showing his commitment to the city as it recovered from Hurricane Katrina and supporting a foundation that helped women and children.(backslash)

Smith created his share of football highlights, particularly in the 2009 run to the Super Bowl, when he had 13 regular-season sacks — fifth best in the NFL that year. His postseason play included an interception of a Kurt Warner pass in a Saints playoff victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made public.

Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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  • This follow-up story teaches us to never, never take the first report of anything without a heavy grain of salt. Never believe the first thing you hear, read or see.

      • advertiser1, you, personally might be satisfied thinking that. I’ll wait for all the evidence to be gathered, thank you. Now what about all the proof I asked you to produce to support your allegation that I’ve always supported overly aggressive officers and the NRA? That request was posted yesterday at 5:33 pm. You’ve shown your facility in cutting and pasting so where is it?

        • Sorry, I didn’t get to that. But, you were in favor of the officer during the South Carolina incident? I think you said something similar there too about the officer fearing for his life…And are you not a card carrying member of the NRA?

        • This is from a few days ago…you said in response to the officer throwing down a 12 year old girl and being fired. And for the record, really, “please lord, let me go home unhurt today” :

          I doubt very much that many of high-handed posters here have any experience dealing one-on-one with someone who is actively resisting and simply will not obey a lawful command. Talk all you want about applying this or that marshal arts move or that the officer should have, because he was male and bigger, performed with more finesse. In the end, he probably just thought to himself, “Please Lord, let me go home unhurt today.” You can be all the expert you could be in applying wrist or arm locks, but all it takes is a lucky blow to take your eye out. I too wish the officer could have calmly walked the girl out – but it was her choice not to realize that outcome.

        • advertiser1, you were given an extremely low bar to cross. All you needed to do was prove that I always support the use of excessive force by police officers and that I always support the NRA. Let’s go over why you failed.

          First, the comment you lifted was from a discussion that took place before any determination was made, either administratively or legally, that the officer had applied excessive force. As such, the comment is simply an opinion that excessive force may not have been used. Had I written, “The officer had every right to apply any amount of force he liked.” or “Even if the officer is judged to have used excessive force he had every right to do so.” then you would have supported your allegation, but nothing of the sort was written.

          Second, you were asked to prove that I always support the NRA. How does asking whether I’m a “card carrying member” prove that? Does membership in any organization necessarily mean members agree with everything the organization promulgates? National Rifle Association members don’t take oaths of blind obedience. Maybe the organizations you subscribe to do, but not the NRA.

          I’ll grant you another chance to show you’re neither a liar nor a buffoon. The bar will be set as low as possible this time. Find ANY single instance where I’ve supported the application of excessive force or brutality by police officers and ANY single instance where I’ve said I support the NRA in all things.

          Or, you can just come right out and declare yourself to be a liar or a buffoon right here and now.

          Give it your best shot.

  • OK, so let’s presume this started as a hit-and-run. Doesn’t give Driver 2 a right to retaliate by rear-ending Driver 1 and precipitating a confrontation. Sans confrontation, no gunplay would’ve occurred. This won’t change the charges on Driver 2 one bit.

  • Well, well, well, as anti gun control fans will say: At least it was a fair fight since they BOTH had guns !! Problem is one man is dead & his wife is wounded. I DON”T suppose any of this would have been avoided if NEITHER had a gun, huh ???
    Less sugar means less diabetes, less cars means less traffic, less fat means less heart attacks, less lawyers mean less lawsuits, but less guns means MORE shootings ???? WTF ?????

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