Police: Gun found in Will Smith's car, but no evidence it was fired

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

NEW ORLEANS -- A fully-loaded 9-millimeter handgun was found inside the vehicle of former Saints player Will Smith on Tuesday morning, three days after Smith was shot and killed following a minor car crash, according to the New Orleans Police Department.

No ballistics evidence or shell casings were recovered to show that the weapon was fired, according to a news release by the NOPD. The NOPD, which executed a search warrant Tuesday, did not specify whether there was any indication that Smith ever held the weapon during the incident.

The attorney for Smith's alleged shooter, Cardell Hayes, suggested Monday that he believed the discovery of a second gun on the scene would help prove his client was not guilty of second-degree murder. Although the attorney, John Fuller, would not specify if he planned to claim self-defense, he said his client was not the instigator and felt threatened.

The NOPD also revealed that it found a fully loaded revolver inside Hayes' vehicle. There were also no shell casings or ballistics evidence recovered to show that weapon was fired.

Police said previously that all shell casings on the scene matched a third weapon, the .45-caliber handgun that was recovered on the scene and was believed to be in Hayes' possession during the time of the shooting.

Smith's wife, Racquel, was a passenger inside Smith's vehicle and was shot at least once in the leg, suffering non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. The NOPD also said in its news release that another unspecified male and female were passengers inside Smith's vehicle and that they were not injured.

There was also a passenger in Hayes' vehicle, identified as Kevin O'Neal, His attorney, Tanzanika Ruffin, issued a statement on Wednesday.

"My client believes that Cardell saved his life." Ruffin said, according to the local NBC affiliate WDSU. "Smith had a gun and was going to shoot it and Cardell may have saved both of their lives. ... In my mind this is justifiable homicide. Was Will Smith acting like a Saint? This was a hit-and-run that ended up in a tragedy. You've got the aggression of two football players, facing off with each other as if they are on the field and you are going to get your point across by any means necessary."

A surveillance video that aired Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" might offer a clue as to what led to the fatal altercation between the two men.

The video came from a New Orleans restaurant, and it appears to show a hit-and-run incident between two vehicles matching the descriptions of those driven by Smith and Hayesminutes before Smith was shot and killed on Saturday.Smith drove a Mercedes G63 SUV on Saturday night, and Hayes drove a Hummer H2, New Orleans police said.

The surveillance video appears to show a Mercedes SUV bump a Hummer at 11:21 p.m. As the Hummer begins to pull over to the side of the road, the Mercedes veers into the opposite lane before driving away. The Hummer immediately pursues the Mercedes onto Sophie Wright Place; according to New Orleans police, Smith was shot two blocks away near the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street, which is a five-point intersection.

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