A paid informant who alleged to police and the FBI that the murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G. was a conspiracy hatched by Death Row boss Marion "Suge" Knight and a rogue Los Angeles Police Department officer has changed his tune.
The man, who now identifies himself as a lifelong paranoid schizophrenic, has admitted under oath that his elaborate story was "all hearsay," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The bombshell admission came out during questioning in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed against the city of Los Angeles by Biggie's mother, Voletta Wallace, and his estate. The suit claims that the LAPD covered up police involvement in the rapper's death (see "Notorious B.I.G. Wrongful-Death Suit Can Go To Trial, Judge Rules").
The theory put forward by the informant — and promoted over the years by former LAPD Detective Russell Poole — had Knight conspiring with then-LAPD officer David Mack to arrange the shooting, which was carried out by Mack's friend, mortgage broker Amir Muhammad. (The Times said it is withholding the informant's name because authorities believe revealing it could endanger his life.)
B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace), 24, was killed outside a music-industry party in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997 in a case police have not yet solved. The murder came six months after the similar curbside slaying of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas and, at the time, many believed the two murders were part of an East Coast-West Coast rap war between Death Row, home to Shakur, and P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records, for whom Biggie recorded.
The informant, referred to as "Psycho Mike" by law enforcement officials, said Muhammad ambushed Biggie's motorcade as his car was stopped at a light. He picked Muhammad's picture out of a lineup in 1998 and also served as an undercover operative in an FBI investigation focused on Muhammad five years later, according to the paper (see "FBI Ends Investigation Into Notorious B.I.G. Murder").
But in his recent deposition, the man said the only information he had about Mack or Knight's involvement was "hearsay" and that he'd never seen Muhammad before police showed him pictures of the alleged conspirator.
According to a transcript of the proceeding obtained by the paper, when asked how he knew what Muhammad looked like, the informant said, "I didn't know what he looked like." The informant reportedly contacted police in July 1997 while in jail on a parole violation and offered information in the case in the hopes of getting released early.
The information he gave detectives was vague, including a tip that the gunman had a "Middle Eastern-sounding name" that could have been Amir, Ashmir or Abraham. He also said the gunman hung out near 83rd street in Compton, lived near the streets Greenleaf and Johnson, belonged to the Nation of Islam and was a bodyguard for a drug dealer named Bay Gardner.
There is no 83rd street in Compton, and detectives said no drug dealer from that area named Gardner sold drugs in the city in the 1990s. Additionally, when shown the photo lineup, the informant circled three mugshots before finally identifying Muhammad, though only one photo is supposed to be chosen in the process.
The 48-year-old man, who said he'd suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since childhood and had been on medication most of his life, also claimed to be a paid informant for the sheriff's department, FBI, DEA, Long Beach Police and anti-terror groups.
When a lawyer asked him if he simply guessed the picture was of Muhammad — a college-educated mortgage broker from Virginia with no criminal record or ties to Knight or the rap world — the informant said, "Yes. ... Hearsay."
Knight and Mack have repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder. At Poole's insistence, officers searched Death Row's offices and several of Knight's homes, finding no evidence of a connection to Mack, Muhammad or the Wallace murder.
Poole resigned in 1999 and later unsuccessfully sued the LAPD, alleging he was forced out of his job as part of the cover-up of police involvement in the murder.
Check out the feature "Notorious B.I.G.: Still The Illest," where Jay-Z, Kanye, Jada, Alicia and others tell us their favorite Biggie verses.