While Hollywood buzzed with the afterglow of the BET Awards, the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Notorious B.I.G.’s family against the LAPD resumes Thursday after a two-day hiatus.
On Monday, an anonymous police officer said disgraced LAPD Rampart rogue officer Rafael Perez and his friend David Mack had confessed to being involved in the murder. Perez, a flossy detective who stole cocaine from police lockers and framed gang members, admitted to working for Death Row Records the night Biggie, aka Christopher Wallace, was murdered outside the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Judge Florence-Marie Cooper had allowed lawyers for the Wallace family time to interview four or five former and ex-officers. Wallace family lawyer Perry Sanders Jr. is arguing that LAPD officers moonlighting for Death Row Records lawyer were involved in the killing of the 24-year-old Brooklyn rap superstar.
Hit for a Hit?
Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, and her attorneys also allege that controversial record executive Suge Knight arranged the hit as reprisal for Tupac Shakur’s murder in Las Vegas six months earlier. They say Knight’s had his fellow Compton native, Mack, hire Amir Muhammad to shoot Wallace.
Knight, Wallace and Muhammad have all vehemently denied being involved. Their names were dropped from the civil lawsuit just days before it went to trial. Mack is currently serving a 14-year sentence for bank robbery. He threatened to sue the Wallace family for malicious prosecution if he was named in the suit.
Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney. Rocky Delgadillo, brushed aside the delay and said the Wallace attorneys were stalling. “The city doesn’t think this should even be a case,” Diamond said Tuesday. “They keep coming up with distractions like they have time. But there is nothing concrete to tie us to the case.”
It’s been a scintillating week of testimony, with a number of highlights, including testimony from former LAPD chief Bernard Parks and Kevin Hackie, a former Death Row security employee and LAPD officer who testified that his former boss, Reginald Wright, promised to get Biggie. In addition, former LAPD detective Fred Miller, lead investigator on the Wallace case, said the burly cigar cigar-smoking Knight had confessed to a cellmate, reportedly saying, “My people took care of it.”
In a May 2000 Source magazine interview this reporter did with Knight inside Mule Creek State Prison, he denied being involved, joking that he’d actually wanted to sign Biggie. “I like Biggie. Like Pac, he was one of the best rappers in the business. Why would I try to do something to him? Who knows? Maybe one day he could have been signed to Death Row? I don’t know why people are trying to pin that on me. I don’t even know the muthafucka mutha***** they tried to connect me with.”
No Smoking Gun
Indeed this civil trial case has been shrouded by the lack of a smoking gun or concrete witnesses willing to testify. Numerous witnesses have expressed fear of retribution from the LAPD, Knight and other LA gang members. “I think the intimidation is above who we think it is, beyond the rap world,” said Corn Dog, radio host from LA 100.3 The Beat. “When somebody has that much influence over our youth, like Tupac and Biggie did, then higher powers wanna stop that.”
In their multi-million million-dollar wrongful death lawsuit, the Wallace family accuses the LAPD of a massive cover-up, afraid to prosecute Biggie’s killing because it would shed light on their own police corruption.
One courtroom constant has been the determined face of Biggie’s mother, whose sheer will to seek justice has propelled the case to trial. Ms. Wallace’s only son is often hailed as the greatest rapper ever. He released two multi-platinum classic albums, Ready To Die and Life After Death.
Meanwhile, on the red carpet of the Highlands Nightclub after the BET Awards, Star Trak/ Interscope rapper Slim Thug said he doesn’t think the killers will ever go to jail. “The LAPD doesn’t want to admit that some of their officers had something to do with it because that would shine a bad light on them.”
BET Host Cousin Jeff urged more mothers like Ms. Wallace to make the system accountable. “I think it’s bigger than Biggie and Tupac,” he said. “It’s about too many unsolved murders in the African African-American community. And we shouldn’t just sit back and allow our babies, our young people to be murdered without making someone accountable.”