A federal judge has ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay $1.1 million in legal costs to the family of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. as sanctions for intentionally withholding evidence during the family’s civil lawsuit trial.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper’s ruling Friday didn’t give the family the $2 million originally sought, but she left open the possibility of an additional $300,000.
“It’s pretty clear from the ruling that the judge understands this is a significant and difficult case,” said Perry Sanders, an attorney for the rapper’s family.
Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed March 9, 1997, after a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The killing has not been solved.
Cooper declared a mistrial last summer in the family’s civil lawsuit after finding that a police detective hid statements linking the killing to former LAPD Officers David Mack and Rafael Perez. She also ordered the city to pay the slain rapper’s family’s legal costs.
The plaintiffs had been trying to show that Mack, a convicted bank robber, orchestrated Wallace’s killing with the help of a college friend on behalf of Death Row Records chief Marion “Suge” Knight. All three have denied involvement.
Attorneys for the family received an anonymous tip from a former officer that a department informant had tied Perez and Mack to the killing. Detective Steven Katz claimed he had overlooked a transcript of the remarks in his desk.
But Cooper ruled that Katz and perhaps others concealed the information, which could have bolstered the family’s contention that Mack was involved in the killing. A retrial is set to begin later this year.
“We were disappointed with the order,” said a spokesperson for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office defended the city. “We believe the officer’s conduct was inadvertent, and we will prevail at trial on the merits of the case.”
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