NEW ORLEANS — Former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith’s blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit on the night he was shot and killed, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
Smith’s BAC was 0.235, according to the source. The news was first reported by NOLA.com. The legal limit in Louisiana is 0.08.
Results of the toxicology report have not been made public, but they were completed this week and turned over to the defense team for alleged killer Cardell Hayes during a discovery hearing Wednesday morning.
The attorney for Smith’s family, Peter Thomson, said he has not seen the toxicology report. But he emphasized that even if reports are accurate, “Nothing that happened changes the fact or justifies the fact that [Hayes] crashed into the back of Will Smith’s car, then shot his wife Racquel, who was just standing there, twice with a .45-caliber handgun, almost killing her.
“And nothing changes the fact or justifies the fact that the same person shot Will Smith seven or eight times in the back and murdered him. And nothing changes the fact that Will Smith and Racquel are the victims in this case.”
Hayes’ attorney John Fuller countered that it’s “only right that the jury knows the state of mind of all parties.”
“Certainly this is something we’ve always been concerned with and suspicious of,” Fuller said of the reports of Smith’s blood alcohol content.
Fuller previously suggested on the day after the shooting that the toxicology reports would “shed a light on the behavior of some of the participants.”
Smith and his wife were shot after a heated exchange of words following a pair of traffic incidents in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District the night of April 9.
Hayes has been charged with the second-degree murder of Will Smith and the attempted murder of Racquel Smith, among other charges. Hayes’ attorneys have not denied that Hayes was the shooter, though he pleaded not guilty — likely setting up a claim of self-defense.
Smith had a registered firearm in his vehicle, though police said there was no evidence it was ever fired. It remains unclear if Smith brandished his weapon or threatened to use it, though Fuller has claimed that he did.
Fuller has insisted that Hayes was not the aggressor during the altercation. Fuller also stressed Wednesday that Hayes had no alcohol or drugs in his system on the night of the shooting.
Thomson, meanwhile, has insisted that Hayes was the aggressor and said previously that Smith was not too inebriated to drive.
Smith and his wife spent April 9 at the French Quarter Festival and dined with friends at the Sake Cafe restaurant on Magazine Street before a pair of traffic incidents occurred, shortly before midnight.
Surveillance video from several New Orleans businesses captured Smith’s vehicle appearing to bump into Hayes’ vehicle after Hayes’ vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. Hayes then began to pull over to the side while Smith’s vehicle drove off.
Hayes then pursued Smith and slammed into the back of his car a few blocks later, which led to the argument and the shooting.
Thomson has said he believes Smith’s gun was in a compartment, and “at no time during this event, to my knowledge at all, did Will Smith ever brandish or carry on his person a firearm.”
Fuller, however, has said he has a witness who claimed that she saw the gun in Smith’s possession. Fuller has suggested that former New Orleans Police Department officer Billy Ceravolo — a friend of Smith’s who was out to dinner with him that night — may have moved the gun. Ceravolo’s attorney has denied that claim.
Another couple was in the car with the Smiths on the night of the shooting, with another acquaintance in the car in front of them. Hayes had a passenger in his car as well.
Hayes’ attorneys made subpoena requests for video footage from three dining and entertainment establishments where they believe the Smiths spent time on the day of the shooting, including the Sake Cafe — presumably to support the findings of the toxicology report.
The parties will be back in court Friday for a bond reduction hearing.