CBS Los Angeles is now reporting new evidence that officers within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) may have played a role in the death of rapper Christopher Wallace, also known as the Notorious B.I.G and Biggie Smalls.
Wallace was murdered March 9, 1997.
According to witnesses, a lone gunman in the driver's seat of a black Chevy Impala pulled up to the truck, where Wallace was sitting in the passenger seat, and opened fire. Wallace died shortly thereafter.
The Wallace family filed suit against the LAPD in 2005, bringing forth additional evidence that implicated LAPD officers in the death of Christopher Wallace. The two officers under suspicion are David Mack and Rafael Perez.
Both Perez and Mack are in prison now for unrelated crimes, Mack for bank robbery and Perez for stealing cocaine.
The new evidence involves an alleged conversation between Perez and a cellmate in the L.A. County jail. Mack and Perez were reportedly close confidants with Death Row Records, the label that represented rap artist Tupac Shakur, who was involved in a highly publicized dispute with Biggie. C
In sworn statements, the cellmate said that Mack and Perez were on the scene when Biggie was killed, with Perez working security:
"Perez told Mack that Biggie Smalls was in his truck----circle whose truck?----Kicking it with someone else in the truck."
The cellmate says that Perez never said he set up the murder of Biggie Smalls, but that he strongly believes Perez had something to do with the murder. There were hundreds of pages of documents in the inmate's sworn statements that were not utilized in the original LAPD investigation.
Former LAPD Lead Investigator Russell Poole says that the documents are crucial and that he was frustrated that his investigation in to the murder was thwarted when he got too close to the truth. Poole resigned from the LAPD in 1999.
Poole put things in to proper context by referencing the fact that the LAPD was already dealing with major headaches after the Rodney King beating just a few years earlier, as well as the O.J. Simpson trial. This racially charged environment, according to Poole, made LAPD officials squeamish about the idea of enduring yet another major controversy.
Poole also mentioned the financial incentives of the department for possibly covering up the truth. According to Wallace family attorneys, Rafael Perez was on duty the night of the homicide.
If Perez was involved, then the LAPD would become liable for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Given the LAPD's tattered history of corruption and abuse of power, it is entirely conceivable that officers were involved in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. as well as the deaths of countless citizens whose stories will never be told.
Additionally, the fact that officers Perez and Mack were both sent to prison gives tremendous credibility to Russell Poole's allegations. One might hope that years later, since the dust has settled and a few bigwigs have retired, the world may finally get the truth about what happened to Christopher Wallace.
The East Coast-West Coast battle between Biggie and Tupac was one of the most unfortunate incidents in the history of hip-hop. The gang warfare mentality of the West Coast, which was artificially contrived when guns and drugs from outside sources were allowed to flood South Central Los Angeles, is reflected in the music of Tupac Shakur and other groups of the day, namely N.W.A.
This kill-or-be-killed mentality spread like social poison with an in-your-face style of music that translated into real violence that ended the lives of scores of young black men.
As a fan of both Biggie and Pac, I believe that Tupac was truly prepared to die. I honestly don't believe that Biggie wanted to die and that he and his partner Sean "Diddy" Combs were hoping that common sense might prevail in this deadly game of chicken.
In the West Coast, though, where children are militarized at an early age and prepared for a short existence, beefs like this typically don't end until someone is in a casket. Years after the deaths of Biggie and Pac, homicide is the leading cause of death for young black males, with gangsta rap serving as fuel for the fire.
But while it's easy to blame the artists for the music that encourages black men to carry guns and kill one another, we must look deeper at the gun manufacturers, government officials, record labels and others who earn billions by creating this deadly environment. Quite a few institutions have blood on their hands, and we must dig to the root in order to stop it.
Watch the case here:
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.