Relatives of slain rap star Notorious B.I.G. vowed yesterday (July 7) to renew their wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles after a U.S. judge declared a mistrial and accused police of co
Relatives of slain rap star Notorious B.I.G. vowed yesterday (July 7) to renew their wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles after a U.S. judge declared a mistrial and accused police of concealing evidence.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said that previously undisclosed documents implicating two former Los Angeles police officers in the rapper's 1997 shooting death were found days ago in police possession as the result of an anonymous tip.
Much of the material turned up in the desk or cabinet of LAPD Detective Steven Katz, the lead murder investigator, who testified he forgot the papers were there. In a scathing rebuke, Cooper said she found Katz's explanation for the oversight "utterly unbelievable."
"The detective, acting alone or in concert with others, made a decision to conceal from the plaintiffs in this case information which would have supported their contention that [ex-officer] David Mack was responsible for the...murder," Cooper wrote.
She said the newly disclosed documents also established links in the slaying to former officer Rafael Perez, the central figure in a 1998 corruption scandal that rocked the LAPD. City attorneys said they were surprised by the revelation but that the material at issue was of questionable value.
Cooper ordered the city to reimburse the family of Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, for legal costs.
Wallace's relatives have said they brought their suit to shed light on the rap star's unsolved murder, which has been widely attributed to a long-running feud between East and West Coast record labels.
The family's lawyer, Perry Sanders, said he would seek a deposition from Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.
LAPD spokesman Paul Vernon said Bratton agreed the newly discovered documents should have been turned over sooner, but disagreed with the judge's "conclusions about any type of a deliberate cover-up."
Wallace was gunned down six months after fellow superstar rapper Tupac Shakur was shot to death in Las Vegas. The Wallace family has contended that Mack, who is in prison for robbery, was tied to Shakur's record label, Death Row Records, and arranged for a college friend to shoot Wallace -- who was signed to rival Bad Boy Entertainment -- in retaliation.
The newly found documents center on police interviews with a jailhouse informant who said Perez had told him about his and Mack's involvement with Death Row Records and their activities at the scene of Wallace's slaying, the judge said.
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