Mistrial Declared In Notorious B.I.G. Case

A federal judge today (July 6) declared a mistrial in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death case in Los Angeles, attorneys on both sides said.

A federal judge today (July 6) declared a mistrial in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death case in Los Angeles, attorneys on both sides said.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper's ruling came after she expressed concern at a hearing yesterday that the Los Angeles Police Department had deliberately withheld evidence from the court.

There were only three days of testimony in the trial, which began June 21 but was interrupted when an anonymous tip led to the discovery of large numbers of LAPD documents that hadn't been turned over to attorneys for the late rap star's family.

The family attorneys had declared their intention to refile the lawsuit with new allegations against the LAPD and against a corrupt former officer, Rafael Perez.

Assistant City Attorney Don Vincent said he would still like "to try the case on the merits." Family attorney Perry Sanders Jr. said the case would now delve into the LAPD's Rampart corruption scandal.

Perez was a central figure in the scandal, which involved alleged misconduct or brutality by corrupt officers in an anti-gang unit in the Rampart division. More than 100 criminal convictions tainted by police misconduct were reversed.

"We're about to get to the bottom of Rampart," Sanders said. "We're about to peel the onion back to its rotten core."

The anonymous tip revolved around prison informant Kenny Boagni, who was deposed yesterday. In police interviews in 2000 and 2001, Boagni said that when he was in prison with Perez, Perez acknowledged that while still a policeman he privately worked security for Death Row Records on the night Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in 1997.

Although the killing remains officially unsolved, B.I.G's family was seeking to hold the city liable and seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit claims that former LAPD officer David Mack, a convicted bank robber and one-time partner of Perez, arranged for a former college roommate to kill the rapper at the behest of Death Row founder Marion "Suge" Knight. It also claims the LAPD covered up Mack's involvement. Perez, the central figure in the LAPD Rampart corruption scandal, had not been named in the B.I.G. lawsuit.

LAPD Detective Steven Katz kept a chronological log in which he recorded meeting in 2001 with Boagni and with department officials regarding the B.I.G. killing. But the log and other documents were not given to the family's attorneys until last week.

Katz said in his deposition last week that he forgot that the log was in his desk drawer, a contention that Cooper dismissed as "absolutely incredible."

Mack, Perez, Knight and Mack's former college roommate have never been arrested or charged in connection with the slaying. None are currently defendants in the suit, which was filed three years ago.

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