An exLos Angeles police officer and Marion "Suge" Knight, imprisoned Death Row Records co-founder, categorically denied a newspaper report alleging that police suspect their complicity in the slaying of rapper the Notorious B.I.G.
In its Thursday (Dec. 9) edition, the Los Angeles Times cited Los Angeles Police documents and anonymous sources in identifying former Officer David A. Mack, who is in prison for bank robbery, as a suspect in the rapper's death.
Mack's lawyer, Donald M. Re, said the article was "complete and utter nonsense." Re met with reporters at his office Thursday afternoon.
According to the paper, police are investigating a theory that Mack, who sometimes provided security for Death Row employees, conspired with Knight to hire Amir Muhammad (also known as Harry Billups) to kill the Notorious B.I.G. Amir Muhammad was described by the paper as a close friend of Mack.
"They talk about the fact that he has a friend named Amir Muhammad and that some informant says that the name of the shooter was Amir. ...," Re said. "Then, you get to the end of the article and find out the informant didn't actually say that. What he said was that the name was Amir and Ashmir or Abraham. Then, they talked about some other information about the shooting that doesn't match up to the fellow that Mack knows."
Knight's lawyer, Robin J. Yanes, nearly mirrored Re in denying the story.
"It's complete nonsense. There is no connection between Suge Knight and Death Row Records and David Mack," Yanes said.
Yanes said police investigated the theory more than a year ago to no avail. He said he was unaware whether they were still looking into it.
Knight was identified as a suspect in the slaying of the Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace) in April, when police searched three locations linked to the executive. Knight is serving a nine-year prison sentence after violating his probation on an assault charge by participating in a brawl in September 1996 in Las Vegas. That fight occurred hours before Death Row Records rapper Tupac Shakur, 25, was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Sgt. John Pasquariello, a Los Angeles Police spokesperson, said that the Mack-Knight theory the Times printed is still just that a theory.
"We don't have any hard evidence linking [Mack] to the crime," he said. "We're exploring every possibility."
Pasquariello did not comment on other evidence in the case.
Sources told the Times that the motive for the fatal Notorious B.I.G. shooting March 9, 1997, may have been the long-rumored feud between Death Row and Bad Boy Entertainment, the Notorious B.I.G.'s label. A spokesperson for Bad Boy said the label had no comment on Thursday's story. Death Row referred calls to Yanes.
Police have been working to build a case against Mack for two years, according to the Times. The police first suspected Mack might be involved, the paper reported, after discovering he drove a black Chevrolet Impala, the same car model that, witnesses said, the gunman who shot the Notorious B.I.G was driving. The rapper was killed outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
"The police have known about the Impala. They could have gone and searched it and would have, if they believed that Mack was involved," Re said. "But they never did any of that, which I think indicates that even the police don't believe that Mack was involved with it."
Pasquariello would not comment on Re and Yanes' assertions, other than to say, "We haven't discounted any theory, and we haven't closed the door on anything."
The Times said police also are investigating another theory that members of the Crips, a street gang, killed Wallace because he failed to pay them for security they once provided. Mack and Knight, according to the paper, may have ties to a rival gang, the Bloods.
The paper reported it could not reach Amir Muhammad for comment.
The Notorious B.I.G., who was 24 when he died, became a hip-hop star with the lyrically playful but introspective songs on his albums Ready to Die (1994) and Life After Death (1996).
Born Again, a collection of previously unreleased tracks with vocals by such rappers as Snoop Dogg and Juvenile, was released Tuesday. Nouveau hip-hopper Eminem raps with the late star on "Dead Wrong" (RealAudio excerpt).
Two weeks ago, Wallace's mother, Voletta Wallace, said it was a comfort for her just to hear her son's voice, despite the profanity and street imagery on the album.
"When I think of Christopher, I come up with one word: love," she said. "Not only did he love his friends, his family, his fans they loved him, too."
SonicNet Staff Writer Teri vanHorn contributed to this report.