Will Smith

Verdict reached in the shooting death of former New Orleans Saint Will Smith


Cardell Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter in the road rage shooting death of former New Orleans Saints All-Pro Will Hayes, the wounding of Racquel Smith, Will's wife, per the Advocate.

Hayes will be sentenced on February 17, and faced 20-40 years in prison.

Three guns were reportedly recovered from the scene, including two from Hayes and a loaded handgun from Will Smith's vehicle (police maintain there is no indication that the former Pro Bowler fired the gun).

Will Smith's wife, Racquel Smith, was shot in the leg and treated for her injuries, while Will Smith was shot in the back and side following a reported road-rage incident and died shortly thereafter, according to the USA Today.


According to the Advocate, Smith was shot once in the side as he started to go back to his car and get his gun after a verbal and reported physical altercation between the two. Hayes then fired seven more shots into the former football player. Reports from the courtroom note Smith likely would have survived if it was just the single shot.

Detectives reportedly reviewed surveillance video released by FOX 8 News in New Orleans, which appears to show former Pro Bowler Will Smith's vehicle striking Hayes' Hummer prior to the road-rage shooting that killed the former New Orleans Saints defender.

"Prior to the actions that led to Mr. Smith's death, my client was involved in a hit-and-run. Someone hit him. The person failed to pull over," Hayes' attorney, John Fuller said, per CBS. "My client trailed behind this person in an effort to get their license plate number. My client also called 9-1-1."

NOLA.com previously reported Will Smith, one of the drivers in the reported accident that preluded the shooting, had a blood alcohol level "severely over the legal limit."

"One source said toxicology results, which have yet to be made public, put Smith's blood alcohol content at 0.24 percent, three times Louisiana's legal limit of 0.08 percent. The two sources discussed the report on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly."

Attorneys for Hayes have maintained he shot Will Smith in self-defense.