NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – An NOPD officer took the stand Friday detailing what he saw the night former Saint Will Smith was shot and killed after a traffic accident in the Lower Garden District.
Jacki Jing is in the courtroom. Follow her on Twitter.
Officer Christopher McGaw testified that he was not in uniform and was on a date when he witnessed from a distance the altercation between Will Smith and Smith’s shooter Cardell Hayes.
Officer McGaw said he heard two loud bangs while at the Half Moon Bar & Restaurant on St. Mary Street and knew it was a crash. He testified that he then listened to a heated exchange between two men which increased in volume and desperation.
“At this point I thought, are these people who are hurt and need help or are these people having a disagreement? Are they wreaking havoc? This is not going to resolve itself — and if it’s not — it’s not going to be good,” officer McGaw said on the stand Friday.
Officer McGaw said he rushed to the scene at the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street and saw a tall black man with dreads holding a gun. He then testified that he heard gunshots, telling the courtroom that he heard several shots, a slight pause then more shots.
Officer McGaw said he then approached Cardell Hayes but never told him he was an officer.
McGaw said Hayes then admitted to McGaw that he had gotten out of his Hummer with a gun in hand, and when he approached Smith, Hayes told Officer McGaw, Smith said “Oh, you have a gun? I have one too. I can play that way.”
Officer McGaw said Hayes told him Smith then went to retrieve a gun, asking McGaw, “What was I supposed to do?”
Officer McGaw testified in court that he did check on Will Smith. He did not find a pulse. McGaw said Smith’s body was positioned as if he were reaching for the glove box. Smith’s face was down across the driver seat, and his right arm was extended.
Smith was shot in the back, and upper left shoulder.