ESPN- A friend of the man charged with the murder of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith told Outside the Lines that the shooting of Smith was "justified" and that there was no negligence involved with Smith's death.
Kevin O'Neal, 30, was at the scene in New Orleans on the night Smith was shot by Cardell Hayes, 29, on April 9. In his first television interview, O'Neal told Outside the Lines' Jeremy Schaap that Smith was "hostile," "erratic" and "uncontrollable" during a confrontation after the Hummer H2 driven by Hayes rear-ended Smith's Mercedes G63 SUV.
The clash following the accident resulted in Smith, 34, being shot multiple times, and his wife, Racquel, 33, shot in the legs. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, while his wife was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Outside the Lines reached out to 15 people who were either involved in or witnessed last April's incident. O'Neal, a passenger in the Hummer and a friend of Hayes since high school, agreed to be interviewed on-camera.
"For what I can remember, and what I can see when I close my eyes and when I revisit and rethink about everything that happened ... he was justified," O'Neal said of Hayes shooting Smith. "And I'm not saying that cause he's my friend ... because if he was negligent, he was negligent. But he wasn't at all."
Have you ever seen a more egregious case of journalistic irresponsibility than ESPN calling the best friend of someone who's on trial for murder a "witness"?!? I mean, it's become pretty clear since this tragedy took place that Will Smith's actions were at least partially to blame for how ugly things got. He was driving with a few drinks in his system. He did rear-end the man that ultimately took his life. He did flea from the scene of the accident. He did - by multiple accounts - react aggressively after his car was hit. Does that mean he is deserving of what is basically a post-mortem hit piece that only represented the killer's side of the story? A highly decorated athlete has long been deceased, and the worldwide leader in sports is hunting down someone from the inner circle of the person that pulled the trigger to give him a platform to proclaim his friend's innocence? What fucking sense does that make?
Never mind the fact that the story you heard is patently untrue. It's one thing to say that Will Smith's actions made a bad situation worse, but to say it's solely his fault that he's now at eternal rest takes such an incredible amount of bias that it makes political debates look like they are rooted in reality. Cardell Hayes chased Will Smith down and "accidentally" blew directly into his bumper? He shot him upwards of SEVEN times (and his wife twice) IN THE BACK as self defense? Give me a fucking break man. Saying the dude that's sitting behind bars was completely justified in his excessively homicidal actions is just as goddamn stupid as saying that Will Smith was completely innocent in the confrontation that ultimately cost him his life.
I don't really blame this dude Kevin O'Neal for vastly exaggerating his truth to make his boy - who was driving around with easily accessible firearms - look like a victim. I do blame ESPN for essentially acting like Cardell Hayes' defense team in a video that implies that the world is a better place without Will Smith. Not only is there very little basis for them to take that angle, but I hardly consider it part of the job description of a sports news network to all-but-choose a side in a pending murder case.