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Will Smith killing: Accused says he was 'not the aggressor'

Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints heads for the sidelines during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Smith was part of the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl winning team in 2009

A New Orleans man accused of killing a retired American football player in an apparent road rage incident has said he was "not the aggressor".

Cardell Hayes said there is more to the story than the initial police account.

Police said former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was driving with his wife on Saturday when Mr Hayes' Humvee crashed into Smith's Mercedes.

The crash set off a row in which police said Mr Hayes shot and killed Smith and wounded his wife, Racquel.

Police are trying to determine whether there was any connection between Mr Hayes and the victims.

Mr Hayes worked as a security guard for the Saints while Smith was with the team, but his lawyer John Fuller said his client did not know Smith.

Mr Hayes's father was shot to death by police in 2005 and his lawsuit against the department was settled for an undisclosed sum, according to the New Orleans Advocate.

One of the officers named in the lawsuit, William Ceravolo, told ABC News he and Smith were friends and had dinner together on Saturday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Hayes "was not the aggressor", his lawyer said
Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Hayes' lawyer said his client co-operated with police after the shooting

Mr Fuller said his client did not act like a murderer.

He said Mr Hayes, 28, said his vehicle was hit first and he was following Smith's car to take down a registration number when the incident happened.

Mr Hayes called emergency services to report the shooting and encouraged a witness to stay at the scene to speak to police, Mr Fuller said.

Police said Smith was not armed and Mr Hayes owned his gun legally.

Racquel Smith is being treated at hospital and is expected to recover.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who played with Smith for seven seasons, decried New Orleans' high rate of killings.

"We've become desensitised to it," Mr Brees told a local radio show.

"And so many people die, but we pay attention when it's Will Smith; that forces so many people who wouldn't normally deal with it to deal with the reality of a terrible thing, the gun violence in the city."

Smith, a 34-year-old father of three, played with the Saints for his entire career and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2009.

He retired in 2012 after he was implicated in the "Bounty Bowl" scandal.

The NFL accused of Smith of being part of a locker-room pool that paid cash bonuses for heavy and even injurious hits.

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