Tupac Shakur's mother has filed a wrongful death suit against a reputed L.A. gang member who was once at the center of a police investigation of the 25 year-old rapper's gangland-style murder a year ago.
Less than one week after Orlando "Lando" Anderson, 23, filed suit against the estate of Shakur for an alleged assault on him by the rapper, Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur, filed a counter suit in California Superior Court in Los Angeles. In the suit, filed last Friday (Sept 12), she claims that Anderson was the triggerman in the fatal shooting of gangsta rapper Shakur and seeks money to cover medical and funeral costs as well as pain and suffering. It also names Anderson's cousin, Jerry "Monk" Bonds, the alleged driver of the car used in the murder.
The suit states that "plaintiffs have reason to believe... that Bonds was the driver of that Cadillac and Anderson was a passenger in the Cadillac," referring to the car that allegedly pulled next to Shakur and imprisoned Death Row boss Marion "Suge" Knight's at the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard prior to the shooting. The suit then paints a scene in which Anderson exits the Cadillac, pulls a gun and sprays Knight's BMW with gunfire.
Anderson, who claims he was beaten in the lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the night of Shakur's shooting last Sept. 7, filed suit against his alleged attackers, Shakur, Death Row and Knight, on Sept. 8, based on mental and physical injuries he alleges he suffered in the attack. Though he has never been charged with Shakur's murder, Anderson was interviewed by Las Vegas police and was at one time the most prominent suspect in the case, which has yet to be solved.
Anderson's lawyer, Renee Campbell, who filed the suit against Shakur's estate and who will defend him against the suit filed by Shakur's mother, said that the latest litigation in the name of the slain gangsta rapper is "baseless." She also denies that her client is a member of any gang. "I can't understand why she's filing suit against this man," Campbell said. "There is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Anderson is responsible for the death of her son. The suit has no merit."
Afeni Shakur's lawyer, Richard Fischbein, said on Tuesday that the suit was "in response to the lawsuit by Orlando Anderson," but would not elaborate on any evidence uncovered by his investigative team in relation to the murder. Fischbein alluded to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, in reference to the lower burden of proof necessary in a civil trial. The suit seeks wrongful death, personal injury and general negligence damages to cover medical and funeral costs, loss of earnings and support, as well as pain and suffering.
Ironically, Campbell, who said she had not yet been served with any papers in the suit, reiterated something Afeni Shakur has said all along about the investigation into her son's murder: that Las Vegas police aren't doing their job. Last week, Sgt. Kevin Manning of the Las Vegas Police Department said that the LVPD have "no official suspect" in the case, but that members of the three-person investigative team assigned to it did speak with Anderson in Compton last year.
Manning said the Shakur murder investigation is still open and will remain so "forever, until there is a successful resolution."
Although Manning could not comment on any leads or new revelations in the case, he said the investigators continue to follow-up on numerous leads that come in weekly. He also said that "nothing new of any use" was obtained through numerous eyewitness interviews conducted by the team.
Anderson's suit was filed by Campbell in L.A. on Sept. 8, a year and a day after the one year anniversary of Shakur's 1996 murder. It seeks compensatory, general, special and punitive damages from Shakur, Knight and Death Row, based on the allegations of assault and battery. Anderson alleges the assault occurred in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, just hours before Shakur's still-unsolved drive-by murder.
Campbell claimed Anderson suffered a severe shoulder injury, multiple contusions and back pain following the alleged "rat-pack"-style attack and beating.
Based on a hotel security videotape of the incident, Knight was sent to prison for nine years in February on a probation violation. Prior to Knight's incarceration, Anderson had testified in a hearing that he believed the Death Row founder had been trying to stop the assault and not participate. "I didn't represent Orlando at the time," Campbell said, when asked if her client had perjured himself on the stand. "But it is my understanding that at the time, he feared for his life."
Campbell said Anderson has admitted to having his life threatened, although she would not comment on the source of the threats. [Tues., Sept. 16, 1997, 5 p.m. PST]