LSP responds to attorney's request to take over Will Smith shooting death investigation

Published: Apr. 16, 2016 at 10:11 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 17, 2016 at 12:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana State Police will not take over the investigation into Will Smith's death, despite a request from the alleged shooter's attorney.

Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson issued a letter to defense attorney John Fuller in response to his request that State Police take over the investigation due to his lack of faith in the NOPD to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.

Fuller's client, Cardell Hayes, is accused of shooting Smith to death. Smith's wife, Racquel was injured in the shooting. Hayes' attorney, John Fuller, sent a letter to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Friday asking him to order the New Orleans Police Department to recuse itself and turn over the investigation to either State Police or the FBI.

The following is the letter Fuller sent to Mayor Landrieu:

"Dear Honorable Mayor,

"Due to a grave lack of faith in the honesty and competency in the investigation surrounding the death of Will Smith, the defense is requesting that you order the New Orleans Police Department to recuse itself and turn over the investigation to either the Louisiana State Police or Federal Bureau of Investigation. This lack of faith, in part,- stems from factual misstatements from high ranking members of the police department.  As such, justice demands that this investigation immediately be relinquished to a more appropriate, uninvolved agency.

"Respectfully submitted,

"John T. Fuller"

The mayor's office sent FOX 8 the following statement when asked about their response to Fuller's letter:

"Every homicide in New Orleans deserves a fair, thorough and complete investigation, and that is what we are doing in this case. We will continue to follow the facts wherever they take us."

Edmondson sent the following letter to Fuller:

Dear Mr. Fuller: 

Your request to Major Layne Barnum for investigative assistance in the above referenced matter has been reviewed by my office. 

Inasmuch as the incident involving your client occurred within the boundaries of the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Police Department exercises original jurisdiction in the investigation of will Smith's death. We have confidence that the Police Department has the investigative expertise and capacity to fulfill its obligation of conducting an objective and professional investigation. Moreover, there is no legal basis for our agency to expropriate the authority of the NOPD in this or any other criminal investigation within the city. 

I have spoken with Chief Michael Harrison and offered the full resources of the Louisiana State Police in supporting their investigation including forensics and DNA capabilities. In fact, members of my staff met with NOPD investigators and representatives from the District Attorney's office this morning. It was jointly agreed that NOPD should retain the lead role in this investigation at this time. Such an arrangement protects the integrity of the inquiry and serves the best interests of all involved parties. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of service. 


Colonel Mike Edmonson
Louisiana State Police, Superintendent

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