NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Retired Police Capt. William Ceravolo will be reinstated as a reserve officer with the NOPD and may file defamation charges against defense attorney John Fuller following allegations Ceravolo tampered with evidence at the scene of Will Smith's shooting.
Ceravolo, who was with Smith earlier in the evening, was at the scene the night Smith was shot, but according to his attorney, Tanya Faia, video surveillance shows Ceravolo was at The Windsor Court when the shooting happened and rushed back to the scene once he learned his friend was dead.
But in the weeks following the shooting, Cardell Hayes' attorney, Fuller, leveled claims that Ceravolo may have tampered with evidence at the scene.
"The testimony was, according to Mr. Olesky, who interviewed a witness that I'm aware of, that witness identified a man and that man removed a gun from the G Wagon and that man was William Ceravolo," Fuller told reporters on April 29 outside of Orleans Parish Criminal Court.
Days after Smith was killed, the New Orleans Police Department removed Ceravolo from their reserve officer rolls and investigators collected DNA samples for the case.
Ultimately, jurors looked past the allegations, and the witness Fuller said made the claims never took the stand at the trial.
"It's horrific what happened to Captain Ceravolo, because a lie was stated about him in court and out of court on the steps of the courthouse, and it was allowed to just float in the breeze for eight months. And then well before then, they knew it was a lie. They didn't do anything to remedy that lie, and now finally his name has been cleared," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.
"We are simply very, very relieved that the jury did not believe the allegations against my client. I think if they did, the outcome would have been very, very different," Faia said.
Faia said told reporters today that Ceravolo still can't speak to the media, but he's looking for a civil attorney to explore the possibility of filing a defamation charge against Fuller and possibly others.
"To be accused of tampering with the crime scene in order to move evidence, hide evidence, plant evidence - it depends on what day you listen to allegations in the media - was very difficult for him to bear, difficult for him to speak out about it," Faia said.
Raspanti thinks Ceravolo may have a case, especially considering the fact that Fuller made the statements to the press outside of court.
"If it's proven that Mr. Fuller knew about this, knew that it was a lie, and allowed it to keep festering out there, I think he may have some exposure, because even though a lawyer has some protection about what you do in a courtroom, what you do on the courtroom steps may be a different matter," Raspanti said.
Faia said Ceravolo and Smith were long-time friends and even traveled out of the country together shortly before Smith was killed.