New task force assigned to B.I.G. case

A new task force of senior homicide detectives has been created to investigate the still-unsolved murder of the late Notorious B.I.G.

If new evidence is found, it could strengthen the Los Angeles Police Department’s claim that its officers had nothing to do with the rap icon’s death, the LA Times reports.

The launching of the task force comes nine years after B.I.G. was gunned down after leaving a music industry party at the Peterson Automotive Museum.

The case has generated a host of theories speculating how the rapper (born Christopher Wallace) and former friend and rival MC Tupac Shakur were killed.

No one has been charged in either slaying.

The LA Times reports that theories being looked at include the possibility of B.I.G. being killed by a member of the Southside Crips gang as part of a bicoastal feud linked to Shakur’s death, according to law enforcement sources, who are also investigating allegations that rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight paid a Bloods gang member $25,000 to carry out the murder.

Knight was the head of Shakur’s label Death Row Records.

Crips gang members told the LA Times that B.I.G. promised $1 million to the Crips for killing Shakur. The members further stated that the lyricist and his associates paid the Crips only $50,000 and stiffed them for the balance.

So the Crips killed him too, the gang members said.

A few months following B.I.G.‘s death, police seized a black Chevy Impala from the backyard of a house in Compton linked to Dwayne Keith “Keefee D” Davis, a Southside Crips shot-caller.

Records indicate that Davis, who was with a group of Crips in Las Vegas the night Shakur was slain, was also at the Petersen museum the night B.I.G. died.

Although he was questioned on both cases, authorities did not arrest Davis, who was later convicted in federal court of drug dealing and sentenced to five years in prison.

In addition to the theories, authorities are checking a home video taken by three Texas tourists moments before B.I.G. was killed. The trio filmed many of the attendees at the March 9. 1997 party until about one minute before the ambush.

Most recently, the six-member task force began meeting with gang experts as well as contacting informants and interviewing witnesses from Compton to Brooklyn.

The group also reinstated a $50,000 reward for anyone with information leading to a conviction.

The trail of the case led detectives to Houston in June as they interviewed witnesses and followed up on leads about potential suspects, including rap label head Tony Draper.

Draper, who headed up Suave House Records, was the owner of a blue 1996 Bentley that is seen on the tourist video near the crime scene the night of the shooting. Although he admitted to being at the Petersen party, Draper denied having anything to do with the crime.

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton and other officials refused to discuss the case, citing sensitivity to the pending Wallace family lawsuit. Nevertheless, LA City Councilman Jack Weiss voiced his support of the department’s new efforts.

“It’s very good that Bratton has brought renewed focus to this case,” Weiss told the Times. “Hopefully it will lead to identification of the actual killer or killers. At a minimum, it should provide some definitive reasons to rule out the more outlandish theories that have evolved over the years.”

The months following the murder have been tumultuous for B.I.G.‘s family, who are in the middle of an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. The suit claims that LAPD officers were connected to the shooting.

A new trial was set for early next year after a mistrial was declared in July 2005, when U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper discovered documents that implied LAPD involvement by a police informant were deliberately hidden by a detective.

Amir Muhammad, one of the men named in the suit, was arrested Wednesday (July 26) by Department of Motor Vehicle investigators on unrelated perjury charges connected to his possession of four false identifications. He was released on $50,000 bail.

He, along with former LAPD officer David Mack and Knight, has denied taking part in the killing.

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