New details have emerged in the “road rage” killing of former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith. “A loaded 9 mm handgun was found in the car slain former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith was driving Saturday night when he was shot and killed,” ajc.com reports. “The discovery of the weapon came after the police executed a search warrant Tuesday for the interior of Smith’s SUV.” The lawyer for the accused, Cardell Hayes, also revealed . . .

his client “felt threatened” by the presence of a second weapon prior to the shooting. Untill late Tuesday, police has said they found no second weapon at the scene of the shooting.

“It would be safe to say that not only did my client feel threatened but citizens that were out there in that block felt threatened as well and I think the unearthing of a second gun will lend itself to the defense of Mr. Hayes,” Fuller said.

According to the attorney for the  man who was a passenger in Hayes’ car that night, Kevin O’Neale,  Hayes was protecting both himself and O’Neale when the shooting happened.

“Smith had a gun and was going to shoot it and Cardell may have saved both of their lives,” attorney Tanzanike Ruffin told NBC Sports. “In my mind, this is justifiable homicide. We assume Will Smith is a saint but he’s not.”

So to speak. The case is sure to evoke Louisiana’s “Stand Your Ground” defense for justifiable homicide. The fact that Hayes made no attempt to flee the scene will impact the killing, as well as the testimony from passengers in Hayes’ car. And the fact that he was a prohibited person for a prior felony.

In any case, the case is sure to enervate the enemies of firearms freedom, who may or may not refer to the fact that Hayes’ father was shot and killed by New Orleans police.

69 Responses to Will Smith’s Killer Claims Self-Defense

  1. Doesn’t sound good for Hayes in any event if he wasn’t supposed to be carrying. Also, one case of his Dad ( no disrespect intended) should not have any legal bearing on this case.
    If I read this correctly ( did I?) the fact that Mr. Smith was carrying and was legal in doing so but evidently ? did not have his gun in his hand so therefore it would not be an imminent threat to Hayes does not give the ” stand your ground” any positive bearing for Hayes’s defense even IF Hayes was a legal gun carrier.

    • I’m sorry, do you expect me to wait for you to draw your gun before I can feel that I am in danger of death or great bodily harm?

      Oh, and there is no convicted felon exception to the 2nd amendment.

      • It’s all what you can articulate in court.

        “He said he was going to get his gun too so I shot him”.

        Good luck with that. Not saying you have to wait until someone draws on you. Just saying good luck with that.

        • If someone threatens to “go get his gun so he can shoot you” then isn’t that the time to run the hell out of there, as opposed to shooting him in the back while he fetches his gun?

          I guess it depends on how close he is to getting his gun and if he would be able to draw soon enough to hit you in the back as you run away down a city street.

    • The shooter’s father having been gunned down shouldn’t factor into this case, but neither should the shooter being a prohibited possessor.

      Now, I don’t know what felony earned him that status, and I’m generally in favor of barring felons from firearms possession. However, his reportedly illegal possession of a firearm is its own and separate issue, distinct from his claim of self defense in the shooting itself.

      Not being a lawyer, I’m not thoroughly schooled in the rules of evidence, but I’d wonder whether his supposed status as a prohibited possessor would even be admissible at trial.

      • Depends on the judge. I would argue that the defendant’s prior criminal history would be highly prejudicial unless it had some parallel to this particular incident.

      • You can be unjustly labeled a “felon” for peacefully trading in certain plant life or chemicals, or you can be a felon for armed robbery.

        • Or you can be a felon from selling plant life to a minor who then gets so high off your plant they kill someone else while driving, in which case I hope you are buried under the prison yard.

    • Hayes was hoping this was his big chance to blow away some random white dude & then grand-stand about ‘black lives matter’. But of course, it was too late. He already had the gun in his hand and there was no turning back. And like most other black-on-black encounters, he murdered his “bruthuh from a diffun’ muddah”.

  2. Does anybody else feel dumb because they just realized this isn’t about Will Smith the actor? Also pretty sure (as sure as you can be without knowing all the facts anyway) that Hayes is guilty as sin. As much as I would like to believe this was a self defense (mostly because of pro gun sentiments) I just don’t think it is.

    • Too many coincidences. Smith was in a restaurant with one of the cops sued for shooting Hayes father. Later Hayes stops in front of Smith and there is minor contact of the vehicles, but we do not know what was happening before this or why Smith decided to drive away. Hayes gives pursuit and then apparently rams Smiths Merc from behind. Cars stop. Hayes gets out and shoots Smith & wife while they are seated in their car.

      Stand your ground? Hardly seems like pursuit and shooting into someone’s car qualifies.

    • Rob, how can you believe in his guilt without hearing any evidence. News “stories” are stories because they are NEVER the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Don’t worry though, a social media search will find your remark and you will never sit on a jury. Challenge for cause, your Honor.

      • Good luck linking social media posts to individual jurors to the court’s satisfaction. Me thinks you’ll be using one of your peremptory challenges councilor.

        • Somebody needs to watch or read more Grisham. Wasn’t it Runaway Jury where the had consultants running intel that would put a TLA to shame.

        • Maybe he was using “cop rules” where anyone within a mile of the officer is a threat.

      • “Don’t worry though, a social media search will find your remark and you will never sit on a jury. Challenge for cause, your Honor.”

        Next time I’m summoned, during voir dire I will tell them I am really looking forward to sitting on a jury and giving the guilty bastard the fair trial fair they deserve…

        🙂

        • Nah, you don’t have to go that far.

          All you have to do is tell them, when they ask if you can be fair and impartial, “Of course! I hate all (series of racial slurs covering several different ethnicities) equally!”

        • My favorite was my wife’s former agent, who *really* didn’t want to get selected on a case where the court told the jury panel that the trial would last several months. (The fact that she was self-employed and such long jury service would quite literally have put her and many of her clients out of business was not a basis for avoiding jury duty.)

          Her way out was to dress very “hippy chick” and comment that she really, really needed to be on the jury because “I’m psychic, and I so I’ll be able to tell who’s telling the truth . . . ”

          Needless to say, she was quickly excused.

        • Last time I was on jury duty, it was for a statutory rape case, a he said she said.

          Defense asked if I could be impartial or did I feel “vengeful”.

          I told them if the State didn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt I’d vote to acquit.

          If they did prove it I would be fine with throwing him in prison for as long as possible.

          The judge excused me right there. Go figure.

      • Old law Prof hence me saying things like “as sure as I can be without knowing all the facts anyway”. Jeez there’s no need to get so accusatory. Plus I’m pretty sure Rob from Ks. is not good enough to narrow down exactly who I am assuming some over the top attorney does a “social media check” as you call it which if we’re honest would be at most a Facebook, and maybe twitter search. Others have pointed out most of this pretty well. Plus oh lordey please don’t take away my jury duty! Lol

    • Yup, this. We may never know exactly what happened. For example, only George Zimmerman knows for sure exactly what happened that night. We don’t know 100% Zimmerman told the truth, however, an experienced detective believed his story for seemingly very good reasons (his story was not told exactly the same way each time he told it, people who lie usually tell the story the same way each time because they forced it to memory).

      • In regards to Zimmerman, let me suggest that you go and review the postings by Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection at the time. He is the author of the “Law of Self Defense”, and followed the case closely. Short answer is that the state had the burden disproving Zimmerman’s theory of SD beyond a reasonable doubt, and instead he probably proved it at that level. If beyond a reasonable doubt is 90%, the state was probably at 10% by the end of the trial. Even Martin’s girlfriend was probably more on Zimmerman’s side by the end of her testimony. Which left essentially the only evidence against him being the testimony of Martin’s parents that it was their son screaming for help. Which was rebutted by a defense expert, as well as the entirety of the forensic evidence. If you really question the verdict, you have probably bought into the left’s narrative instead of looking at the facts. The case was not even close.

  3. I feel like the fact that seven of the eight shots hit Mr. Smith were shots to the back sort of puts the kibosh on the whole “self defense” argument. Also, how did Hayes ‘feel threatened’ by the presence of a second weapon if it was in the car, not in Mr. Smith’s direct possession?

    • If Smith’s gun was in the glove box then Hayes could have shot Smith as he was going for it, which would explain both the shots to the back and the hits to the wife’s legs.

        • I don’t think so. I think that Smith needs to draw the gun and point it at him for it to be an imminent and reasonable threat. At least draw it, but my view is that holding it in a low ready position is (intentionally) not an imminent threat.

  4. Even if Mr Hayes can convince a jury that it was indeed self defense (and that’s a pretty big “if”), he’s still screwed.

    The law is clear. A convicted felon, even after being released from incarceration, cannot possess a firearm of any kind, much less carry one in public. He’s going to jail no matter what.

    However, this could potentially be a huge deal in terms of legal precedent. IF it is deemed self defense, the government would have a difficult time arguing that he has no 2A right, since without the firearm, he could’ve been seriously injured or killed (assuming the self defense play works, but it won’t).

    It would be difficult to argue that by mere virtue of his past transgressions he should have to be placed in greater potential harm than a non-prohibited person. For tge government to succeed in such an argument would fly in the face of all other constitutional rights that aren’t voided by being a felon, such as their 1A, 4A, 5A, and 6A rights.

  5. According to reports, the wife was struck first and then Smith took 7 to the back. Sounds like he was shielding his wife from gunfire. It would take a Johnny Cochran level attorney to spin a bumper tap into self defense.

    ‘Self defense’ is turning into the new ‘dindu nuffin’ and it’s going to be a bad situation for everyone.

  6. “Hayes’ father was shot and killed by New Orleans police.”

    And it’s been reported (correctly or incorrectly) that just before the shooting of Will Smith, he had dinner with one of the cops involved in Hayes’ father’s shooting.

    If true, that would be one hell of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?

  7. If I’m ever shot by an enraged ex-felon illegally carrying a gun, I hope he doesn’t walk just because the cops find a lawfully owned gun in my vehicle several days later.

    … Cuz they’re gonna find a lawfully owned gun in my vehicle. And just because it’s there doesn’t mean the shooter was facing an imminent, credible threat to his life.

  8. Not knowing any prior details about this case, there are two many pronouns in that paragraph to tell which one was the felon.

  9. It’s beginning to look like proof of the theory that it takes two violent tempers to make a road rage.

    Question, is the hit and run vehicle Smith’s G63?

      • But until we hear the statement from Mrs. Smith as to what happened before they were in range of the Flying Burrito camera we don’t know why Smith decided to drive away. Pursuit and shooting that followed does not constitute self-defense, IMO.

  10. Hey the shooter got hit and the hitter ran. I don’t have much of a ride but if you hit & run I’m gonna’ be PO’ed…”Heroes” don’t do hit & run. But that’s my take. It also shoulda’ been a DGU. Bullets trump big boy size every time…but if the shooter was prohibited he’s screwed.

    • I got t boned on a motorcycle a year ago and the driver ran. I had a gun but I didn’t chase after him and blow him away. I got the license number, called the cops, and got witnesses. If you would mow someone (and his wife!) down over a bumper tap then maybe it would be better for everyone if you didn’t carry.

  11. “the case is sure to enervate the enemies of firearms freedom”

    I don’t think that word means what you think it does. I wish it did … But somehow I don’t think this will make the enemies of firearms freedom feel drained of vitality.

  12. If I snuck into a house and shot their wife, the kids, the dog, then raped and shot him. Id still plead not guilty.

  13. All the spin so far is by the respective lawyers and is suspect, although Hayes sounds guilty as sin. What is unfortunate — yet another case of an ex pro- and semi-pro athlete reverting to hoodlum behavior, irrespective of the fancy cars and however much money they have, whether legally or illegally earned.

  14. 1) there is a witness who says Smith vocalized his intent to retrieve his firearm.

    2) Smith so far is the only one seen on film beeaking the law. An INTENTIONAL ramming of a car can be considered assault with a deadly weapon. Don’t believe me? Sit in your car and let someone ram into you.

    3) there is in fact plenty of precedent for accquitting felons in possession for justifiable self defense homicides. A case in NY where an attempted assassination was thwarted when the assassin’s gun jammed, and a felon shot him in defense of his brother’s life; dismissed without prejudice.

    4) the wife was in the car where Smith said his gun was at. It is not unreasonable to think she was shot to prevent her from retrieving it.

    • It’s pretty clear in the video that it was a very light tap. Since modern bumpers are rated for 5 mph and there is no significant deformation, the ‘crash’ was nothing more than a light bumper scratch. Elevating that to vehicular assault is like trying to argue that a person kicking you in the shin is attempted murder. That aside, simple hit and run is never justification for lethal force, and considering the shooter had to chase the guy down to even get to that position, it looks very badly on him. As far as the wife goes, she was not incapacitated from the gunshot, she still could have retrieved the gun. The fact that she didn’t also doesn’t bode well for him.

  15. Hayes is doomed. Only one shot entered Smith from the front and if it was deemed not necessarily fatal and due to the fact that the other multitudes of shots entered his back makes Hayes look like he may have been the aggressor.. The prosecution will say Smith was trying to run away and the Defense will say he was going to the car to get his gun. No one will ever know for sure what Smith was doing but the Jury will most probably be sympathetic to the victim as Smith being a football player is automatically elevated to near God like status.

    We also do not know if Smith was advancing toward Hayes when he was shot the first time from the front. This would help Hayes defense.

    Self Defense is not limited to shooting someone who has a weapon in his hand as even an unarmed person is capable of causing death to a person he is attacking.

    The other factor against Hayes is that it will be almost impossible to find a Jury that has not seen in the news coverage in regards to Hayes being prohibited from owning a gun and had been in trouble with the law previously.

    • You are correct that self defense isn’t limited to either party being armed with a weapon – Big Mike Brown was justifiably shot by Officer Wilson in Ferguson, despite being unarmed. But you can’t have it both ways – if Smith was advancing on Hayes at the time, he couldn’t have been grabbing his gun from the glove compartment, and since that gun never left it, Hayes shot an unarmed man who posed little actual threat to him. The only way that the defendant has a real chance is to argue that he thought he saw Smith pulling his gun.

  16. 1. The fact that Hayes made no attempt to flee the scene will impact the killing, as well as the testimony from passengers in Hayes’ car.
    2. And the fact that he was a prohibited person for a prior felony.

    Hayes is in double deep.
    1. “he made no attempt to flee the scene”?
    Well he may not have fled the shooting scene, but he most certainly left the scene of an automobile accident.
    That is a Hit and Run.
    2. A convicted felon with a firearm?
    He may be able to beat the rap on the shooting, but the NOT the gun possession.
    He is going to jail for a long time.

  17. The facts in the case seem to be that Will Smith hit the plaintiff’s vehicle, and ran away. Plaintiff followed the vehicle to attempt to get his license number and insurance info, and Will Smith did not comply. A confrontation ensued in which Will Smith produced a handgun, and was shot dead by the plaintiff.

    My take on Nu’Walens? Go for the entertainment. Stay because you were murdered!

    Charlie (lives a comfortable distance from the asshole of the Mississippi river)

    • Except there’s no need to chase or confront. You get the guy’s plate and you call the cops, the end. Taking it anywhere past that is escalation and aggression.

  18. More info needed. As expected.

    But we know what the anti-2nd people will say… if not for the gun(s), this would have never happened.

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