Thirteen years ago Tuesday (March 9), hip-hop lost one of its most beloved, charismatic and talented MCs to ever put rhymes to a beat.
The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997, as he left a Soul Train Music Awards afterparty. To date, the assailants remain at large.
Investigations into the murder of the Brooklyn rapper are ongoing, and a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Biggie’s mother, Voletta Wallace, and others against the city of Los Angeles and other defendants is also pending.
The ongoing quest to punish the people behind Biggie’s death, however, continues to leave those involved frustrated.
Ms. Wallace declined to comment on the status of her lawsuit but issued a brief statement to MTV News: “I thank you for the opportunity to touch [my son’s] fans and for the network’s continued support of me and the family, but it’s been 13 years, I miss my son, his children miss their father, and the murderer is still at large.”
Theories abound about the murder of the iconic rapper, which occurred only a short distance from the Petersen Automotive Museum where Biggie, Diddy and their entourage were celebrating just moments before. According to author Randall Sullivan’s book “LAbyrinth,” associates of Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, who was embroiled in a feud with Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, conspired to kill Biggie. The book, based on extensive research conducted by Sullivan and interviews the writer held with former Los Angeles Police Department detective Russell Poole, an investigator into Biggie’s murder, those involved in the hit on Biggie were dirty cops.
“They say some cops become gangbangers; well, these guys were essentially gangbangers who became cops,” Poole told MTV News.
Rafael Perez and David Mack, Poole alleged, were just two of the many LAPD officers who were on the payroll of Death Row Records. According to Poole, the officers’ primary sense of duty and allegiance to the police force was tainted by their involvement with Death Row. The two eventually went to prison but on charges unrelated to the investigation into the Notorious B.I.G. murder.
Poole maintains there were clues that pointed to each man that should have been looked into further. “I’ve put away guys for life with less evidence [than I had on Perez and Mack],” Poole said.
Through a complex web of deceit intended to shield the LAPD from a controversial scandal, Poole said, members of the force, including the chief at the time, suppressed efforts to look into policemen who were connected to Suge Knight and Death Row.
Poole eventually resigned in protest, amid his frustrations that the investigation was being sabotaged.
A representative for the LAPD declined to comment when contacted by MTV News about the status of the rapper’s murder investigation. At one point, the FBI picked up the investigation but later announced it had stopped its pursuit. A representative for the FBI also declined to comment when contacted by MTV News.
Ms. Wallace’s wrongful-death lawsuit remains open. The case was brought to trial at one point, but days later it was declared a mistrial after it was discovered the detective who took over as lead investigator in Biggie’s murder hid evidence. The mistrial was announced July 7, 2005, however, no further advancements have been made since in pushing the case to trial again.
Poole alleged that police initially sought to slow down the investigation into Biggie’s murder in order to keep the lid on possible LAPD involvement in the crime. Now, he said, the new administration and Los Angeles’ power players are striving to keep the truth buried for fear that civil-lawsuit payouts could bankrupt the economically challenged city. In any event, the former detective said he’s ready to be a witness in Ms. Wallace’s case and will testify whenever he is called upon.
For now, Poole waits, haunted by a puzzling case in which he seems to have too many pieces gathered to not complete the full picture.
“I want this thing solved before I die,” he said. “Every detective has a case that they think about each and every day, and this is the case right there. This is the case I think about every single day before I go to bed. It never goes away. It’ll haunt me for the rest of my life. The day it’s solved, I’ll be able to relax.”