Seven of the bullets that killed former Saints player Will Smith on Saturday night entered through his back, and one entered through the side of his chest, Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffrey Rouse announced Wednesday afternoon.
The autopsy on Smith was conducted Monday, April 11, and found a total of eight gunshot wounds, Rouse said in a statement released early Wednesday afternoon. Seven of the bullets entered various parts of his back, one entered through his left lateral chest wall, Rouse said.
“Seven of these wounds were penetrating in nature, with projectiles recovered and no corresponding exit wounds. These bullet tracks had entrance into the left upper back (1), left mid-back (2), left lower back (3), and left lateral chest wall (1). Many of these bullets perforated vital organs, including the lungs and heart,” Rouse wrote. “One of these wounds was a perforating wound, with both an entrance and an exit wound. This bullet entered the left upper back, traversed soft tissue, and exited from the right shoulder area.”
Meanwhile, toxicological testing to determine whether Smith had any substances in his system will take six to eight weeks, Rouse said.
Rouse’s findings contribute to the ongoing determination of the circumstances that led to Smith’s fatal shooting on around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9. The attorney for the man who shot him, 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, has said his client was not the aggressor — arguing that Smith had previously hit Hayes’ orange Hummer in a hit-and-run on nearby Magazine Street, which seems to be corroborated by surveillance video, and predicting the discovery of another gun in Smith’s car, which police confirmed on Tuesday.
Smith’s family, however, released a statement Wednesday morning saying that Hayes had no reason to feel threatened by Smith, and that the situation seemed to be defused when Hayes started firing — striking Smith’s wife, Racquel Smith, in the legs first before killing Smith.
Rouse said that his findings simply determine that Smith’s death was a homicide, and that the remaining questions are up to the legal system to decide.
“As Coroner, I must stress that this classification is a medical determination,” Rouse said. “Questions of guilt or innocence, justifiable versus non-justifiable are matters that are decided by the legal system.”