Retired New Orleans Police Department Capt. William "Billy" Ceravolo has ruled out filing a civil lawsuit over now-discredited allegations that he tampered with the crime scene after Will Smith's fatal shooting — claims that resulted in his suspension from a reserve officer's post.
Ceravolo's attorney, Tanya Picou Faia, made the announcement shortly after the former Saints player's convicted killer, Cardell Hayes, was given a 25-year prison sentence Thursday in Criminal District Court.
Cardell Hayes, the man who shot Saints lineman Will Smith to death in the heat of a confront…
Faia said any monetary damages Ceravolo might win by suing one of Hayes' defense attorneys — John Fuller, who first aired the claims at a dramatic news conference last year — would be "blood money" that her client wouldn't even want to donate to charity.
"He wouldn't want to do that to Will's memory," Faia said of Ceravolo, who was a close friend of Smith's.
Faia had said late last year that Ceravolo was considering a lawsuit against Fuller.
Facing criticism about the allegations during Hayes' trial in December, Fuller said he had merely referred to claims about Ceravolo that were reported to Hayes' legal team while it was gathering evidence to defend its client.
An Orleans Parish jury in December found Hayes guilty of manslaughter in Smith's death and attempted manslaughter in the shooting of Smith's wife, Racquel, who was wounded in both legs. Hayes was acquitted on charges of murder — which carries mandatory life imprisonment — and attempted murder.
The Smiths were shot after a three-car collision in the Lower Garden District on the night of April 9, 2016. Ceravolo had dined with the Smiths shortly before the shooting and showed up at the crime scene after learning what had occurred.
At a news conference a few days later, Fuller suggested that a witness had reported seeing Ceravolo remove a gun from Smith's car after the shooting, presumably to protect the reputation of the former Pro Bowler, who was driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when he was slain.
The New Orleans Police Department responded by suspending Ceravolo from volunteer reserve duty while officials investigated his actions at the scene of the shooting.
Faia has said it was devastating for her client to learn of his suspension while at a public wake that the Saints held for Smith. Faia also said that Ceravolo's private security business could have suffered if potential clients believed the allegations against him.
At Hayes' trial, a private investigator working for the defense admitted that the witness in question — identified as Warnisha "Weedy" Hudson — had been mistaken in saying she saw Ceravolo remove a gun from Smith's car. Attempts to contact Hudson, who did not testify at the trial, have not been successful.
The admission followed testimony by Ceravolo that he was at the Windsor Court Hotel when the shooting occurred, waiting to meet the Smiths and other friends with whom they were spending the evening, including former Saints running back Pierre Thomas.
The Windsor Court's surveillance tape from that night supported the account given by Ceravolo, who learned what had happened to the Smiths through a phone call from Thomas.
Thomas was in a car ahead of the Smiths when he heard the crash. He went back toward the collision scene and arrived in time to see his former teammate gunned down, according to testimony.
Despite the investigator's testimony, the defense maintained that Ceravolo did show up at the crime scene and that nobody could track all of his movements there. Fuller also said that Hudson was sure she saw a man who resembled Ceravolo remove a gun from Smith's car — even if it wasn't the retired NOPD captain himself.
Hayes testified that he killed Smith only after the ex-Saint shot at him first and missed. Hayes has never conceded that he shot Racquel Smith.
Police and prosecutors said they found no evidence that anyone other than Hayes fired a gun during the confrontation after the collision.
Ceravolo served in the NOPD from 1989 to 2014, retiring as a captain. He was reinstated to his reserve officer position after Hayes' trial.
Retired New Orleans Police Department Capt. William Ceravolo, who was suspended from his rol…
Shortly after Smith's killing, it was revealed that Ceravolo was present in December 2005 when New Orleans police shot and killed Hayes' mentally ill father in a widely publicized incident for which Hayes later sued the city.
It later became clear those events were unrelated to Smith's death. They were never addressed during Hayes' trial, but they came up during his sentencing hearing, with relatives saying his father's death was traumatic for him.