The FBI has reportedly joined the investigation into Notorious B.I.G.'s murder and is probing a controversial theory that a corrupt Los Angeles police officer orchestrated the shooting with Marion "Suge" Knight.
Los Angeles Times staff writer Chuck Philips, author of a controversial 2002 report claiming Christopher "Biggie" Wallace was behind Tupac Shakur's murder (see "Biggie Paid Gang To Kill Tupac, Report Says"), reported Saturday the FBI has been trailing Amir Muhammad, a man some believe fired the shots that killed B.I.G. outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard seven years ago.
Muhammad is the triggerman in a 6-year-old theory by then-LAPD detective Russell Poole, the primary source behind Randall Sullivan's book "Labyrinth," Nick Broomfield's documentary "Biggie and Tupac" and an upcoming movie (see "Sylvester Stallone Making Movie About Biggie, Tupac Murders").
Poole, who resigned from the LAPD in 1999 over disputes with his superiors about the Tupac and Biggie investigations, contends then-LAPD officer David A. Mack, acting at Knight's request, arranged for Muhammad, Mack's friend and college roommate, to kill Biggie. He also believes Knight had Tupac killed six months earlier in Las Vegas because he was about to leave Death Row Records and that Knight then had Wallace murdered to make it appear both slayings were the result of a bicoastal rap feud.
The LAPD once investigated the theory but dismissed the three men as suspects in May 2000 (see "Police Still Seeking Suspect In Biggie Murder").
According to law enforcement sources and court documents obtained by Philips, the FBI took interest in the Biggie murder after an agent watched a VH1 special on the rapper last summer. The agent contacted the slain rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, and her attorneys, who filed a wrongful-death suit against the city of Los Angeles in 2002 accusing the LAPD of covering up police involvement in the murder (see "LAPD Chief Interfered With Biggie Murder Probe, Suit Says"). The Wallace family's case is scheduled to go to trial July 27 in federal court in Los Angeles, with Poole testifying as an expert witness for the plaintiffs.
Voletta's attorneys told the FBI agent that witnesses were afraid to talk to LAPD detectives about the case because of corruption.
Since then, the FBI has interviewed several witnesses, Poole, and other police officers tied to the Biggie investigation. Agents have also reviewed Muhammad's mortgage payments and phone records and conducted wiretaps and surveillance in San Diego. The feds, however, have found nothing on Muhammad, whose driver's license photo matched a description of the shooter.
The FBI also tried to interview Mack, who owned a black Impala similar to the car used in the Biggie slaying, at a federal prison in Alabama where he's serving 14 years for a 1997 bank robbery, but he denied the accusations. Muhammad has been linked to Mack since he visited him behind bars just after Biggie's murder.
All three alleged conspirators denied involvement to Philips. "I don't know David Mack or Amir Muhammad. I've never met them," Knight told the reporter from Mule Creek State Prison, where he's serving time for a probation violation (see "Suge Knight Sentenced To 10 Months For Parole Violation"). "The FBI has never contacted me, but I'm glad they are looking into all of this stuff. I hope they solve it."
The FBI declined to comment on the investigation, but documents obtained by Philips indicate the bureau is working with the LAPD's Professional Standards Bureau, which handles police misconduct. LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Berkow, head of the bureau, told the Los Angeles Times, "This is a joint FBI-LAPD investigation, and the LAPD is cooperating 100 percent."
The LAPD, meanwhile, has sent investigators to Houston several times since September to pursue leads about potential new suspects in the Biggie murder, including a Houston rap entrepreneur and his friend who were allegedly near the crime scene on the night of the shooting, according to documents obtained by Philips.
Voletta Wallace and her attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.