Refusing to accept a Los Angeles detective’s assertion that he innocently forgot to turn over some of his personal case notes to the court — and characterizing the action as “a deliberate concealment of information” — the judge in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful-death trial said on Tuesday that she would entertain a motion from attorneys representing the slain rapper’s family requesting a mistrial or default judgment.
According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper blasted the detective’s claim that he simply forgot about notes he’d scratched down about a prison informant, saying it “defies credulity.” Cooper is expected to rule on Biggie family attorney Brad Gage’s petition on Thursday.
“I do not believe it,” Cooper said, according to the AP. “It certainly looks to the court, at first blush, that this was a deliberate concealment of information. Some sanction at this stage appears very appropriate.”
Attorney Vincent Marella, who is defending the city and its police department in the civil trial, refuted the suggestion that there was a deliberate effort to withhold documents, and asked that the trial resume on Thursday. According to the wire service, Marella described key details contained within police documents unearthed in late June as “a regurgitation of second- and sometimes third-hand information by yet another jailhouse informant.”
The trial grinded to a halt on June 27, following the eleventh-hour emergence of a jailhouse informant’s statement to police stating that two of the trial’s central figures — a pair of Los Angeles cops — moonlighted as guards for Marion “Suge” Knight’s Death Row Records (see “Notorious B.I.G. Wrongful-Death Trial Halted After New Informant Surfaces” ); the delay provided both sides time to assess the informant’s statement and conduct-related depositions.
The informant, identified as Kenny Boagni, claimed to have shared a cell with former Los Angeles police officer Rafael Perez, who was, at one time, partnered up with Los Angeles Police Department cop David Mack. The federal lawsuit filed by the late rapper’s family contends Mack, acting on orders from Knight, orchestrated the murder of Biggie (born Christopher Wallace); lawyers for the Wallace family have been trying to establish a link between Mack, Knight and his Death Row empire, as well as provide evidence of a department-wide cover-up of Mack’s criminal involvement (see “Former FBI Informant Links Death Row To Biggie Slaying” ).
At its heart, the Wallace family’s suit seeks to lay blame for the New York rapper’s death in the collective hands of the city of Los Angeles; the suit is seeking unspecified damages against the municipality.
According to the AP, Los Angeles Detective Steven Katz’s notes reveal he’d met with Boagni in 2001, as well as meeting with numerous department officials regarding Biggie’s still-unsolved homicide. Those notes, however, weren’t provided to the Wallace family’s attorneys until the trial was underway.
During a deposition last week, Katz claimed he’d blanked on the notes, forgetting he’d left them in one of his desk’s drawers. Gage told the AP that if the mistrial motion is granted, the lawsuit would be refilled, naming Perez as a defendant; additionally, it would include a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) claim of racketeering within the department.
Check out the feature “Notorious B.I.G.: Still The Illest,” where Jay-Z, Kanye, Jada, Alicia and others share their favorite Biggie verses.