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Tipster Says Rogue L.A. Officers Killed Rapper
Jurors hearing the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death suit were sent home early after lawyers told the court Friday that they had received a dramatic eleventh-hour tip linking two rogue Los Angeles police officers to the rapper's 1997 slaying.
A Louisiana man who said he had connections with the LAPD told lawyers for B.I.G.'s family that former officers Rafael Perez and David Mack had confessed to two jailhouse informants that they killed the rapper, attorney Perry Sanders said outside the presence of the jury.
The unnamed tipster said the informants, who were about to testify at a Dec. 11, 2000, Los Angeles Police Department discipline hearing, were warned "not to talk" about the confession, Sanders said.
U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper sent the jury home 45 minutes early to give attorneys on both sides time to investigate the claims. She ordered them to brief her on their findings Monday.
Attorney Vincent Marella, who is representing the city, called the new report "histrionics" but agreed to investigate.
B.I.G., who was born Christopher Wallace, was gunned down March 9, 1997, in a sport utility vehicle after a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Mid-Wilshire District.
The family is suing the city of Los Angeles for allegedly covering up police involvement in the killing, which they say was part of a bloody feud between Los Angeles-based Death Row Records chief Marion "Suge" Knight and Bad Boy Entertainment of New York.
Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls, recorded for Bad Boy, and Tupac Shakur, who was killed six months before Smalls, was on the Death Row label.
The family contends that Mack, who is serving 14 years in prison for bank robbery, orchestrated the killing on Knight's behalf. Perez, the central figure in the Rampart police scandal, was once Mack's LAPD partner.
A string of police witnesses and informants over the past week disputed the family's theory. Former Robbery-Homicide Det. Fred Miller, the lead investigator, told jurors that investigators pegged Knight as the No. 1 suspect, but found nothing to tie Mack to the killing.
However, a Hollywood writer who is working on a screenplay for HBO based on Wallace's killing told jurors Friday that one of those witnesses had told him a different story. Mikko Alanne testified that LAPD Det. Wayne Caffey told him there was a videotape that showed Mack and Perez present when Knight ordered a hit on Wallace. The videotape was not produced in court.
Caffey on Thursday had strongly denied Alanne's story. Dorothy Wolpert, another lawyer for the city, tried to suggest that Alanne had embellished events for dramatic purposes, noting the writer's connection to Oliver Stone, the director of a conspiracy movie about the assassination of President Kennedy.
Another witness, Dale Chapman Williams, showed up Friday in a Tupac Shakur T-shirt. Williams, who the FBI said supplied a van used in one of Mack's bank robberies, was called to suggest that the LAPD had never fully investigated Mack's crimes. Williams, however, denied any involvement in the bank job.