NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Big Easy said goodbye to one of its big men Friday. In true New Orleans fashion, hundreds celebrated the legacy of former Saint Will Smith with a second line that started near the scene where his life ended in the Lower Garden District.
"This hopefully will celebrate who he was," said participant Larry Rolling. "He was a champion and he was a Saint, and he'll always be a Saint."
"Definitely, the saddest day of the Saints for what happened with Will Smith," Dale Boudreaux said. "Our prayers are out to his wife and his kids. It's just very sad."
But the sadness felt by many Saints fans Friday night was blown away by those playing a song of peace.
"New Orleans is way much better city without the violence or the killings," James Andrew said.
And this high-profile killing sheds even more light on the city's tarnished image. A celebration of life that's remains under a cloud of questions about how the violence escalated after what appeared to be a fender bender.
"Stop the killing for the family, for both families really, because we need to support one another," Nancy Butler said.
As the investigation continues, the lawyer for Smith's accused killer wants the NOPD off the case. Friday afternoon, attorney John Fuller sent a letter to Police Chief Michael Harrison and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, saying he doesn't have faith in the honesty and competency of the department's investigation.
And as the city mourns with celebration, the same city silently tries to make sense of a violent night that could have been avoided.