Bizarre Inside Edition Lawsuit that Involves the Murder of a Former NFL Player

On August 6, 2018, Billups P. Percy sued Inside Edition Inc. after Inside Edition allegedly used Percy’s copyrighted video of Anthony Hayes. On December 26, 2005, Percy, a Louisiana-based photojournalist, video recorded Anthony Hayes wielding a knife while surrounded by New Orleans police officers. Hayes was shot and killed by a police officer after he lunged at a police lieutenant. Percy later registered the video with the U.S. Copyright Office and he was given rights to the video as the sole owner of all “right, title, and interest in and to the video.” Hayes son, Cardell, later sued the City of New Orleans after his father was fatally shot; however, he settled the lawsuit for around $125,000.

Fast-forward to April 12, 2016, Inside Edition ran a story, with an accompanying video, of former New Orleans star player Will Smith’s final moments. In the Inside Edition video, security footage from a nearby restaurant captured Smith’s Mercedes rear-ending Cardell Hayes’ Hummer. It was reported that Hayes used the money from the lawsuit he settled with the City of New Orleans to purchase the Hummer seen in the security footage. In the security footage, after the collision, Hayes pulled over, but Smith sped away and Hayes gave chase. Reportedly, Hayes caught up to Smith and confronted him and his wife Racquel. Soon after, an altercation broke out and Hayes shot Smith’s wife in the leg twice and fatally shot Smith. In the accompany video, Inside Edition showed portions of Percy’s copyrighted video. According to the complaint, Inside Edition did not license the video from Percy for its article, nor did Inside Edition have Percy permission or consent to publish the video. Ironically, just before his murder, Smith was having dinner with a close friend, a police lieutenant. The police lieutenant was the same police lieutenant that was lunged at, eleven years before, by knife-wielding Anthony Hayes.

Smith was a key player when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010; he was also one of the original players suspended in the 2012 Bountygate scandal. Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Will Smith and attempted manslaughter for shooting Racquel Smith. Hayes claimed that he was acting in self-defense and he recently filed an appeal to overturn his conviction.

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