MURDER RAP EBOOK
LLC Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data eBook conversion by Design, Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur MurderRap. c om First Edition October To Afeni Shakur and Voletta. Murder Rap - The Untold Story Of The Biggie Smalls And The Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations by Greg Kading. Two of the most notorious unsolved cases in the annals of American crime, the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls have been the subject of exhaustive .
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Ebook [Kindle] Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations by the Detective Who Solved Both. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. GREG KADING is a retired Los Angeles Police # in Biographies of Murder & Mayhem; # in Music eBooks; # in Murder & Mayhem True Accounts. Would you like to tell us about a lower price. LLC Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data eBook conversion by Design, Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls and.
I remember the date: It was also my birthday. My name is Greg Kading. I understood immediately why I was being asked to work on a case that, while it had long since gone cold, was still one of the most famous unsolved murders in the annals of American criminal justice. I was, to put it as modesdy as possible, well qualified for the job. On the other hand, my whole career could also be considered an unlikely choice for someone of my background.
I was born in Reno, Nevada, where my parents worked in the casinos and divorced when I was two years old.
It was the sixties and my mother, who was very much a child of those times, hit the road with my two older sisters and me in tow. Over the next decade we lived like gypsies, moving from house to house, sometimes campground to campground, never staying in one place for long. The plan was to meet up with him and head back to the States in the guise of an innocent family of tourists. We got as far as Orange County, California, before word came that the federales had nabbed the would-be dope runner.
With no place left to go, we just stayed where we were. It was in the town of San Juan Capistrano that we settled into what passed for a normal life.
I was sixteen when my mother once again decided to move on. I refused to go and the coach offered to take me in. Nevertheless, I had no intention of spending my days shuttiing inmates to court dates or conducting cell searches.
As a beat cop on those tense and dangerous streets, I gained firsthand familiarity with the infrastructure of more than thirty active gangs, constructing elaborate flow charts detailing the hierarchy of the Four-Trey Crips and the Five-Deuce Gangster Crips, the Blood Stone Villains and the Hang Out Boys. The list went on and I made it my business to familiarize myself with each faction, their turf boundaries and the specifics of the specialized criminal enterprises that kept them in business.
There was an intense sense of camaraderie among the officers at Newton. The men and women I worked with were more than colleagues, even more than friends. They were individuals who one day might be called upon to save my life and vice versa. But it was more than just the performance of our sworn duties.
There was an undeniably daring aspect to chasing bad guys, putting your life on the line, and swapping stories with your buddies over a beer at the end of a long day. I loved being a cop. I loved being a good guy. And I loved it when the good guys won. At that time Wilshire was simmering with racial tensions among black, white, and Hispanic officers. It made me uncomfortable, but I kept my head down and my nose clean, and after a few months I was recruited back to Newton to become part of a unit called Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums: CRASH, for short.
Formed in the early seventies by the legendary and controversial police chief Daryl Gates, CRASH was charged with stemming the tide of gang violence fueled primarily by the drug trade. Given the crisis atmosphere of the time, with drive-by shootings causing tragic collateral damage on an almost daily basis, it was easy to justify the flee hand that CRASH had been afforded.
But with it, inevitably, came accusations of abuse and overreaching. In , the world was shocked when the videotaped beating of Rodney King was aired. Prior to the King uproar, car chases in the city were a relatively rare occurrence. The simple fact was that most gangsters knew exactly what would happen to them once they were run to ground. Angelinos were united in their terror of a virtual gang takeover, and CRASH was an appropriate response to that crisis.
Our morale was high and our mission was clear. Over a five-year period my performance was such that I was singled out to become part of a federally run task force focusing on organized gang activity, particularly the vicious Bloodstone Villains Gang operating out of South Central L.
Although I was still operating out of Newton, I was under federal auspices, which meant that I learned up close how lines of authority are established, resources are allocated, and, most important, how turf bathes are overcome so that information and manpower can be effectively shared.
Category: Cozy Mystery
After four years on the federal task force, I was promoted to detective and reassigned back to the Wilshire Division, where I was naturally given more gang work. It was there that I met a young homicide investigator named Daryn Dupree and realized just how much I still had to learn about the criminal subculture we were both bathing. Smart, professional, and an impeccable dresser to boot, Daryn was born and raised by a single mother in South Central Los Angeles, the heart of Crips territory.
There were major drug dealers in his extended family, and Daryn quickly learned how to navigate the ghetto streets, instinchvely turning to sports to stay out of gang life. At the same time he developed a deep appreciation for rap music, hearing in it an authentic expression of the streets he knew only too well. The truth is, I have never met anyone, inside or outside the force, who understood as much about L.
During his tenure, he expanded his grasp of gangs and gang warfare and was soon tapped by other LAPD investigators as well as the feds for his expertise. One of his trainers for the new assignment was Detective Kelly Cooper, who had worked on the initial Biggie Smalls murder investigation. Before his orientation was finished, Daryn had pumped the veteran dry of every last detail pertaining to the stalled case. It was during this time that Daryn and I became close friends.
It was shordy afterward, in early , that federal agents again contacted me, looking for my help to build a case against a major Los Angeles crime figure. His name was George Torres, and I had first become aware of his vast underworld enterprise during my rookie year at the Newton Division. My senior training officer there had been Detective Joannie McNamara, and during our first week together she had driven me deep into the Southside to view firsthand the headquarters of a man who was the target of a investigation she had been involved in for years.
There, at the intersection of San Pedro Street and Jefferson Boulevard, was an immaculately maintained grocery store, painted a distinctive sea foam green and called Numero Uno. From its upstairs offices Torres ran a multi-faceted operation that reached horn the meanest streets of the city to its highest echelons of political power.
A semiliterate Mexican immigrant, Torres had transformed a single food cart in South L. In the process he came to embody the immigrant dream, carefully cultivating a reputation as a committed community leader and becoming one of the largest private landowners in the region.
Rubbing elbows with many of L.
But authorities came to suspect that there was another side to the spectacular rise of the Southside grocery king. As early as the mid-eighties, DEA probes uncovered what they believed to be links between Torres and the Arellano-Felix drug cartel operating out of Tijuana.
There were also persistent rumors that he was supplying more than tortillas and chili peppers to the neighborhood. Agents looked closely at evidence suggesting that Torres oversaw a drug network employing up to thirty street dealers and mules at any one time. A federal criminal probe of George Torres was launched, centered near the Mexican border in San Diego. It was there that detectives established what they believed to be additional criminal links, this time between Torres and the infamous Reynoso Brothers International food distribution network, later to become the focus of a major Mexican drug cartel prosecution.
As she continued her intensive work, an informant claimed that there was a contract out on her life, supposedly initiated by Torres himself. Not long afterward, the federal probe stalled and the Torres investigation was put on the shelf. In many ways, I was carrying on the work that Joannie had begun when, in , 1 too became caught up in the George Torres case.
I helped gather information, develop informants, and interview witnesses in a variety of investigations that had picked up where the initial San Diego-based probe had left off. Evidence solid enough to take to the U. In late , I was promoted to detective and transferred back to the Wilshire Division.
The cops who work day in and day out on the front lines are the first to understand who the bad guys really are and how to best bring them down. When those who have worked longest and hardest on a case are transferred or reassigned, the momentum will usually dissipate. They take with them all the painstaking accumulation of evidence, criminal links, witness testimony, and the myriad other details that go into a successful investigation.
In , I had the opportunity to again focus my attention on Torres when I was asked to join yet another probe into his activities. Dubbed Operation Corrido, it looked into everything from conspiracy, tax evasion, and racketeering to murder and drug trafficking. My particular area of responsibility was to investigate all alleged acts of violence attributed, direcdy or indirecdy, to Torres.
There was no shortage of leads to follow. Word on the street had it that anyone caught stealing from one of his stores was taken into a back room by security guards and made to pay ten times the amount of the purloined item If a thief needed additional persuading, the persistent rumors maintained, he would be handcuffed to scaffolding or locked in a freezer. The proceeds were then carefully recorded in ledgers and a Polaroid of the chastened and, in many cases, battered shoplifter was taken and meticulously filed.
Any merchant, of course, has the right to protect himself against thievery and even to keep an account of those who have stolen from him But if what I was hearing was true, Torres would have been taking that principle to the extreme, in effect running his own private enforcement operation, terrorizing those he caught and making a tidy profit in the process. Further evidence of these activities was procured with a wiretap, over which we heard Torres speak direcdy to an associate about one of the shoplifter shakedowns.
The next step was to request a search warrant of various Numero Uno oudets. The search warrant naturally required a written application to be submitted to a judge.
Any officer worth his badge knows that every word he uses to make his case will be scrutinized, if not by a judge, then certainly by a defense attorney. The warrant request was granted and we raided nine Numero Uno markets, coming away with more than a thousand Polaroid portraits and numerous ledgers enumerating the sums exacted from each victim.
On that basis the U. At that point my work in Operation Corrido was essentially done. I was free to accept the offer to help reopen the Biggie Smalls murder investigation.
The simple fact was that the department was desperately trying to cover its ass. I knew it. Tyndall knew it. And so did everyone else who had managed to keep up with the convoluted twists and turns of the case from the beginning. There were a lot of them. The Biggie Smalls murder was one of those rare events in criminal history when, in the vacuum created by the lack of closure, everything, no matter how far-fetched, seems somehow possible. When the truth is missing in action, anything can take its place.
But it was an LAPD detective named Russell Poole who had put forward what was, by far, the most compelling and convincing theory of what really happened and why. It was simple and elegant and fit the agendas of many of the factions that saw the death of Biggie Smalls through the lens of racism, class warfare, and the long-standing mistrust of the entrenched powers that ran Los Angeles.
Simply put: In every important way, Poole was a quintessential police officer, which gave his allegations of a conspiracy within the force a convincing ring of truth. For many involved in the case, he became the ultimate whistleblower, an insider with the courage to bring down the organization to which he had dedicated his professional life.
The son of a veteran L. County sheriff, Poole began his law enforcement career in , rising quickly through the ranks to make detective in and detective supervisor in He would work as a homicide investigator at South Bureau, Wilshire, and the Robbery-Homicide Division for over nine years and was the primary detective on hundreds of cases. He helped to solve the murder of Ennis Cosby, son of comedian Bill Cosby, and was a part of the team that investigated the bloody North Hollywood bank robbery shootout that same year.
Gaines, who had a history of aggressive behavior, had been killed when he instigated a road rage incident with another cop, an undercover detective named Frank Lyga. The cop-on-cop incident had a complicating racial element to it: Gaines was black and Lyga was white.
There were some within the force, mostly friends and former partners of Gaines, who had immediately accepted the racial motivation and launched their own unofficial investigation to prove it. But for Poole, the significance of the case reached far deeper. A month after the Biggie killing, the investigation — which up to then had been handled by Wilshire detectives — was handed over to the Robbery-Homicide Division.
Russell Poole was named as one of the two lead detectives. From that point on, Poole assiduously worked to uncover any connection he could that might link the two investigations.
For all the lack of solid evidence or suspects, a theory of sorts had taken shape by the time Poole came aboard. The feud is fueled by the fact that Death Row is made up of Blood gang members and that Bad Boy is comprised of Crips. But at least the oudines of a workable hypothesis were emerging, one that Poole would take to with avid interest.
He had already turned his focus to Suge Knight as a result of the Gaines case. From that point on, the two investigations were inexorably linked in his mind. Suge Knight and his thugs had used them to monitor the cops There were all these reports of the Death Row people using them in and around their studios in Tarzana. Witness reports of hearing scanner chatter outside the Petersen was not the only indication to Poole of a criminal conspiracy. There was the intriguing question, for instance, of how the shooter, alone in the black Impala a block away from the museum entrance, would have known exacdy which vehicle Biggie had gotten into and what seat he occupied through the heavily tinted windows.
The random gunfire from the Chevy Blazer on South Orange Avenue heard earlier in the evening could well have been a diversion to distract police and security guards from the real target.
The dimensions of that breakthrough were about to be expanded by an order of magnitude. He and his one-time partner Rafael Perez would soon vie for the dubious distinction of being the most infamous rogue cops in America.
A search of his house turned up the Tec-9 he had used in the robbery as well as a large chunk of cash under the carpet. But when Russell Poole caught wind of what else had been uncovered, other crucial pieces of the puzzle he had painstakingly been assembling appeared to fall precisely into place. Red, of course, was the Blood gang color and the outfit was nearly identical to one worn by Suge Knight.
Yet another key clue for Poole had to do with the fact that David Mack was an avowed Muslim. More than one eyewitness to the Wallace murder had described the shooter as dressed in a suit and a bow tie. Even if none of these cops turned out to be the actual killer, Poole reasoned, they would certainly know who was and had perhaps participated in coordinating the hit, possibly with assistance from the Fruit of Islam.
As he pushed further into the thickets of these intertwined investigations, Poole became increasingly convinced that he was being met with determined resistance from the LAPD brass.
It was a case of the circular logic of conspiracy: Poole had grown impatient with the reluctance of the department to investigate the link between David Mack and Suge Knight. Any attempt he made to move the sprawling investigation in that direction was rebuffed in no uncertain terms and he took that as a sign that the brass was stonewalling a major scandal within the department.
Before he was named to head the department, Parks had been an LAPD deputy chief whose duties included overseeing all investigations by Internal Affairs. As with any case that fell under the purview of Internal Affairs, all findings were subject to a near-complete information embargo.
Nothing that IA might discover during the course of its investigation could be revealed to other detectives, no matter how important it was to their ongoing work. It was a necessary restriction: Internal Affairs officers were charged with investigating their own and had to factor in the distinct possibility that where there was one corrupt cop, there might be others, trying to deflect or derail their work.
A wall of silence was accordingly erected even as Poole persistendy attempted to breach that barrier. In a way, I can understand his frustration. What Poole saw as a concerted cover-up was instead a well- established precedent, making clear distinctions among all the various investigations in which he had become involved. If the cases converged, the preponderance of evidence would reveal the connection.
His version of events — the means, methods, and motives of the Biggie Smalls murder — seemed to fit together perfecdy. What was ultimately lacking was objectivity. He wanted to believe, and that desire, in my opinion, compromised his judgment.
In the spectrum of data- gathering techniques utilized by law enforcement, the stories told by anyone serving time are considered tainted by their very nature. Inmates have little to lose and much to gain if they can appear to be cooperating with authorities by passing along valuable information. Knowing this rule of thumb, Poole ignored it as his peril.
M ug shot of jailhouse informant Way mond Anderson, whose tall tales would lead the investigation down several frustrating and futile rabbit holes before the truth behind the murder of Biggie Smalls was finally uncovered.
Awaiting trial at the L.
While in a holding tank at the Inmate Reception Center downtown, he told Wilshire detectives, Suge Knight, who was also being processed at the facility for a parole violation, approached him According to Anderson, Suge induced him to use his gunrunning contacts to supply the weapons for the Biggie hit.
He even told Anderson the names of the designated hit men: At the same time, it was revealed that Anderson had been in continuing conversation with another Wayside inmate named Michael Robinson. As if on cue, Robinson notified jailers that he, too, had information bearing directiy on the Biggie case.
In the pecking order of informants, Robinson, behind bars for robbery, was several credible cuts above Anderson. He had in the past provided highly reliable information and was so well thought of by law enforcement officials that, after his death years later, the FBI would step forward to pay his funeral expenses.
It was at that point that Poole had what he thought was the decisive piece of evidence to make his conspiracy case. The detective had paid a visit to the Montebello City Jail, where David Mack was being held for bank robbery. David Mack and his partner Rafael Perez would, of course, go on to become poster boys for the so- called Rampart Scandal, eventually involving more than seventy officers from the division, many of whom would end up being accused of everything horn unprovoked shootings to planting evidence and framing suspects.
By a wide measure the most extensive case of alleged police malfeasance in U. But the inadvertent remark helped investigators tie the pair together along with several other Rampart officers.
Perez would later cut a deal with prosecutors, producing four thousand pages of testimony describing a ruthless criminal subculture that had taken root at the division. Much of the account provided by Perez eventually proved to be little more than an attempt to deflect attention horn his own criminal behavior onto the entire division.
Of the seventy-plus officers who were implicated by Perez, fifty-eight were brought before internal administrative boards, twelve were given suspensions, seven resigned, and five were terminated.
Before it was all over, the five fired officers were reinstated with full back pay. The fact that he had, at least to his own satisfaction, linked LAPD officers to Suge Knight, a high-profile gangbanger, only added fuel to the flame. In June , thanks largely to his escalating war with the LAPD, Poole was taken off the Wallace murder investigation and was eventually relieved of his duties at the Robbery-Homicide Division altogether.
He went on to accuse the LAPD of deliberately closing off his efforts to thoroughly investigate corruption within its ranks. And it makes me furious. Internal Affairs swept into the Robbery-Homicide headquarters and hoovered up virtually everything in sight that might conceivably have a connection to the case: It was all hauled away and prompdy sequestered, which brought the murder investigation itself to a screeching halt.
But nothing could slow down the courtroom circus into which the civil case would, over the next three years, devolve. On it, Katz was heard interviewing a jailhouse informant who confirmed that Rafael Perez had worked for Death Row Records and that, further, on the night of the murder he had placed a call to David Mack. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, who seemed to agree that dark secrets were indeed lurking.
The total damages came to more than a million dollars. But that was hardly the worst news that the city and its increasingly discredited police department would be handed in the civil judgment. The legal maneuverings would drag on and on. The essential weakness of the Wallace civil suit was underscored when another U.
But five months later Judge Cooper was back with a reinstatement. There was a very real possibility that the suit would end up being among the most expensive the department had ever had to pay out.
So it came as no surprise that the brass wasted no time in putting together a task force to finally solve the nine-year-old case, find the killer, and hopefully exonerate the police in the process. I was more than ready to take on the job. The three-year-long George Torres investigation had pretty much wrapped up by then and I had gotten a taste for complex, multifaceted, and high-profile detective work. The specter of a potentially immense judgment made the resurrected investigation that much more of a priority for the department, which meant substantially more manpower and resources would be made available to the task force.
I also knew that if we succeeded where others had gone off the rails, it would be a career milestone. I would be bringing the sum of my experience and expertise as an investigating officer to the case, particularly as it applied to the intelligence I had been gathering on Los Angeles gangs for going on twenty years.
I knew the turf, the players, and the feuds igniting the bloody street wars that had terrorized the city for so long. At the same time I was only too aware that the investigation was considered by many to be cursed. But it was the entire Robbery-Homicide Division that had taken the biggest hit to its reputation and prestige.
The detectives who worked there had long considered themselves an elite unit, and it was hard to swallow the embarrassment of allowing such a significant investigation to go completely cold. The simple truth was that there were no volunteers stepping forward from RHD to join the fledgling task force. It was more than a little unusual to put together an investigative team on a major murder case not made up of the Robbery-Homicide detectives, but it also worked to our advantage. A central pivot of the investigation was, after all, the possibility of police involvement.
RHD had conspicuously failed to find the killer. Was that a result of plain bad luck, uncharacteristic incompetence, or a department- wide cover-up? Which, in itself, led to the inevitable question. You have my word on it. A free hand to do the job was my one non-negotiable stipulation, even if it meant exposing an LAPD conspiracy or cover-up.
That was especially true since, up to that point, I had been on the outside of the case. The inescapable conclusion was that among my fellow officers were the very suspects we would be searching out. I came before them after an incident when, observing a street fight on patrol, I had pursued one of the combatants into a nearby house.
He had, in fact, partnered with Russell Poole on various aspects of the case and had come out on record as saying that allegations of involvement by Rampart officers in the Wallace killing might well be true. Tyndall was friendly and easygoing, with a perpetually positive attitude and the kind of seasoned oudook that accommodated an ability to stay above the fray. Part of that relaxed disposition probably had to do with the fact that, at the point when he took over the helm of the task force, he had been technically retired.
One of the most lucrative perks available to a career policeman is called DROP Deferred Retirement Option Program , which allows any officer of retirement age to stay on the job an additional five years at full salary while still collecting a pension. Small wonder he had a tolerant oudook on the sometimes tedious routines of police work. He was too professional for that.
But whatever was going to happen or not happen in the new Biggie Smalls probe, Tyndall could well afford to take it all in stride. It was a job that, under the circumstances, required considerable diplomacy.
Concurrent with the task force investigation, Internal Affairs was also continuing the probe into a possible police conspiracy. Both supervisors were required to provide IA with any and all information we might uncover relating directly to David Mack, Rafael Perez, and anyone else with connections, real or imagined, to Death Row and Suge Knight. At the same time, they also had to be careful to insure that whatever they shared would not result in our own efforts being shut down or taken over directly by IA.
Navigating these conflicting interests required savvy political skills. But from the onset there was another, more formidable hurdle to overcome: During Operation Transparency, Internal Affairs had carted off every last scrap of information and evidence related to the investigation and was keeping it under lock and key.
Short of starting the entire investigation again from scratch, the team had little choice but to wait patiently for IA to laboriously copy the reams of documents and return them in a slow and frustrating trickle.
As the photocopies slowly piled up, Tyndall and Holcomb realized that it would take a herculean effort just to bring order to the case, never mind trying to actually move it forward. It was at that point that Tyndall began to expand the task force. I was his first call. My answer was immediately and enthusiastically affirmative. The reason was simple: I wanted to solve the case. I wanted to solve it very badly.
Of course, I also wanted to see justice done. I wanted the family, after so long, to finally know for sure who had killed Christopher Wallace and why. But what really motivated me was the chance to succeed where so many others had failed, to make the case my own. CHAPTER 7 The Team In movies and on tv, a team comes together when a mastermind assembles his specialized crew — the munitions expert, the computer geek, the muscleman, the femme fatale — to take on an impossible mission.
When Tyndall and Holcomb were charged with forming the Biggie Smalls task force, they had to balance many conflicting interests, only one of which was actually solving the case.
Overtime, travel expenses and informant payments are only part of the bottom line. One of the most valuable tools in such investigations, for example, is a wiretap, which requires considerable ouday, first to the phone company for the installation of the eavesdropping equipment, then for the monitors hired to actually listen to and transcribe the conversations, hour after hour, day after day.
Category: Cozy Mystery
Getting a task force off the ground means convincing the brass of a reasonable return on such investments. In that regard, the revamped Biggie Smalls investigation had an advantage going in. Securing money and manpower was not going to be a major problem for us. When a local task force is faced with funding restraints, the way the job usually gets done is by expanding the scope of the investigation. Bringing in other agencies can help to defray the costs and provide access to resources that would not normally be available.
It was immediately clear to me that the job was simply too big for the LAPD to handle by itself. We needed the best experts, the latest technology, and a long legal reach. There was only one place to go to get all that: Federalizing the investigation made sense on a lot of levels, and accordingly, I approached Timothy Searight, assistant U. I had worked with Searight on a couple of previous cases, most notably the Torres investigation, and knew him to be a smart and capable prosecutor.
He immediately saw the potential in the approach I was pushing for and agreed to assist in deputizing the team as agents of the federal government. As a result, Searight would oversee the procedural aspects of the investigation, which would also be to our advantage, thanks to an important difference between federal and local prosecutorial methods. As an LAPD officer, my responsibility would have been to gather up enough evidence for a district attorney to decide whether the case was strong enough to go to trial.
In the federal system, a U. Searight, in short, would become a de facto member of the team With the lingering cloud of police involvement still hanging over the Biggie killing, having the presence of outside agencies on the team meant that it would be a lot harder for anyone to claim that we were just a tool of the LAPD, attempting to provide cover for its culpability. At the same time we would benefit horn the enhanced authority that a federalized task force would automatically wield.
Being deputized allowed us to utilize a whole range of enforcement tools not normally within our jurisdiction, including the significandy enhanced sentencing guidelines that would come with a conviction in any federal court. If we were going to find the killer and any co-conspirators, a trial in federal court would ensure a punishment that fit the crime. This was a key consideration in light of the stalled nature of the case itself. Without the ability to exert new and serious pressure, all we would be doing was listening to the same shopworn tales one more time.
Opening the case up as a federal investigation would give us that leverage. The most compelling was the distinct possibility of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations RICO indictments, which provided stringent penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization, up to and including twenty years on each and every racketeering count.
The logic was unassailable. Any investigation into the death of Biggie Smalls would have to immediately come to terms with the reality of the Bloods and Crips war that had been raging for close to a decade and would almost certainly be a factor in the murder.
If anyone within Death Row knew who killed Biggie and why, the threat of a RICO conviction might be all that was needed to get a target talking. We might finally be able to break the logjam that had blocked the case for so long. Of course, focusing on Crips and Bloods as continuous criminal enterprises was hardly a new idea. Nor was the connection between gangs and rap record companies. The criminal links to rap reached back almost to the inception of black Los Angeles gangs themselves, a history that began in the mid-sixties when the original Crips were first formed.
By the end of the decade, they ruled the streets of South Central L. To differentiate themselves horn their rivals, who dressed in blue, the upstarts wore red, borrowed horn the colors of Centennial High School, which many of them attended. They called themselves Bloods or, interchangeably, Pirus. There were eventually more than fifty separate and distinct subsets of the two gangs, funded primarily through the sale of marijuana and PCP, as well as robberies, burglaries, and auto thefts.
The late seventies experienced a terrifying escalation in gang power, fueled by the insidious rise of crack cocaine, which ushered in a new era of well regimented drug distribution networks. The plague of smokable, instandy addictive cocaine was a financial windfall of unprecedented dimensions in modern criminal history. Street-corner MCs celebrated in rhythm and rhyme their gangster heroes and were, in turn, provided with recording budgets paid for with drug proceeds.
Howard in his book Sonic Alchemy. By the early nineties, rap music had become far and away the most popular form of music in the world. Gangster rap was its most potent variant, a myth-making music that often chronicled the bloody rivalry between Crips and Bloods.
ICP Murder Rap
But the complications were just beginning. The most daunting task we faced in the first days was picking the right personnel. In the process, we came up hard against a long-established view within the LAPD that detectives are more or less interchangeable. In fact, my first priority after joining the task force was to proactively gather officers with the specialized knowledge and experience that the investigation would require. My first candidate was Daryn Dupree.
After his stint at the Wilshire Division, first in the CRASH unit and then as a homicide investigator, Daryn had been transferred to West Bureau Gangs in recognition of his extraordinary expertise in many aspects of Los Angeles gang activity. While gang involvement was virtually a given in the Biggie shooting, what was even more telling was that the killing had occurred at the interface of street gangs and the rap music business.
Daryn had a deep knowledge of how and where these realms overlapped and of the complex gangster influence on the rap industry and vice versa. Even though his superiors, in light of his track record, were reluctant to let him go, Daryn quickly became the newest member of the task force. Quiet and outwardly unassuming, Hunter was in fact a tighdy wound officer with a low threshold for aggressive behavior.
A competent if not exacdy creative detective, Alan had trouble thinking outside the box, and if there was one thing the Biggie Smalls case needed, it was innovative approaches to the formidable challenges we faced. Other choices, however, would quickly prove their merit. Unfortunately, it came at a price. There was a trace of apprehension toward Blondie among the other task force members due to his links with a small core of ex-Compton cops who had gone on to work security for Death Row Records.
It was an apprehension that reached deep into the wider ranks of the LAPD. From the time it was first incorporated in , the feisty municipality had opted to oversee its own law enforcement, appointing a city marshal to circumvent county control. A century later, the reputation of the Compton Police Department was among the most tarnished in the nation.
The stench of that corruption inevitably clung to anyone who had served time in the Compton police department.
Given our increasing belief in gang involvement in the Biggie homicide, such qualms were understandable, but it only meant Brennan would work that much harder to allay our suspicions and render valuable service to the team On both counts he performed admirably. Three more recruits would eventually join the task force, the first being an LAPD investigator named Frank Trujillo whose background with Internal Affairs provided an important liaison function with a department that was running its own probe into many of the same areas where we were venturing.
Another LAPD officer, named Omar Bazulto, who would soon show his mettie as an analyst and field agent, also came aboard.
So, too, did a series of agents assigned to us by the FBI as part of our multi-agency task force, eventually including Jeff Bennett, whose usefulness was hampered by his limited experience. He had been with the Bureau for only two years prior to joining us. Within a few days of receiving the call from Tyndall, I joined the rest of the team for an initial debriefing and orientation. The volumes of evidentiary material that Internal Affairs had confiscated as part of Operation Transparency had only just been returned, and the material was in a state of complete disorganization.
Within those tens of thousands of random pages were scores of witness interviews, reams of field reports, and piles of often-indecipherable handwritten detective notes, running down every theory and conjecture relating to the murder, no matter how absurd or incidental, from the first moments of the shooting to the point where the whole case collapsed under its own weight. As if all that were not enough to deal with, we were also bequeathed with, thanks to our newly federalized status, the results of an exhaustive FBI investigation into the racketeering activities of Death Row Records that had lasted from to But the massive evidence files still existed on the FBI database and were accordingly dumped in our laps.
Before we could even begin the job of sorting through the ruins of the case, we needed a place to work. We headed to the basement supply room to pick up the desks, chairs, computers, and filing cabinets we would need to furnish the offices that had been assigned to us in the headquarters of the Robbery- Homicide Division. So sensitive was the brass to the integrity of the investigation that we were each given a key to the room along with strict orders that no one was to be allowed to enter without our express knowledge and permission.
Over the course of the first month, Daryn and I took the lead in reorganizing the murder books, in the process constructing an extensive flow chart replete with the name, affiliation, and, where possible, photo of every witness, suspect, bystander, and tangential player that figured, however marginally, into the case.
Lines of association connected each and the chart was color-coded for easy reference. The result occupied an entire wall in the task force office and became a primary tool for the team as the investigation moved forward. As we began to slowly absorb the sprawling scope of what we were facing, it became increasingly apparent there were elements of the case that would require an entirely new kind of investigative approach. What really made the case unique was that it had been pushed far past hard evidence and quantifiable facts and into the realm of rampant rumor and speculation.
Over the course of nearly a decade, all those different interpretations had undergone steady expansion and elaboration. It had to unravel dozens of versions of the same event, each with its own means, motive, and opportunity. Closing the case would require teasing out the truth from all the baggage it had accumulated. The only way to do that, I concluded, would be to conduct the investigation from the outside in.
We would tackle every theory, no matter how harebrained, treating it as real until it could be proven otherwise and disposing of them one by one until eventually we arrived at the one that could not be disproved or discredited. That, by the process of elimination, would be the truth. The first one we tackled was the belief that the white Toyota Land Cruiser, seen on Fairfax Avenue on the night of the shooting, was part of a wider criminal conspiracy.
Much was made of its sudden and mysterious appearance, not to mention its abrupt and complete disappearance. But the real story was much simpler and not without an element of absurdity. On the night of the murder, Shepherd and Anderson had tagged along behind the entourage horn the Westwood Marquee to the Vibe party. When shots rang out, the frightened pair took off at top speed.
Troia was nothing if not persistent. It seems that Anderson was now interested in the life story of the gangster music mogul. As with the white Land Cruiser, the mysterious black Bronco seen on South Orange Grove Avenue just after midnight was likewise easily explained. More than one eyewitness had reported hearing a single shot being fired from the vehicle, and ever since, speculation had revolved around a diversionary tactic designed to distract attention horn the main target.
The reality was considerably more mundane, if not downright laughable. On the night of the murder, two Wilshire Division patrol officers received a call for assistance from Fire Department personnel on the scene at the Petersen.
They called in a report of the gunfire and eyewitness accounts of a male African American fleeing the scene, southbound on Orange Grove Avenue.
A bystander had seen the license plate and reported it to a Fire Department official who had passed it along to the patrolmen. Subsequently, as the officers were assisting in crowd control after Biggie was shot, a black Ford Explorer — not a Bronco — with plates matching the earlier description pulled over next to them on Wilshire Boulevard.
Instead of answering, the officers immediately took him and his passenger into custody. A subsequent search of the Explorer revealed a. When questioned about the weapon and the shot fired, the driver produced a bizarre, but perfecdy plausible, explanation. He and his friend had arrived at the Petersen in hopes of gaining entrance to the Vibe party. As they opened the car door to make their way to the museum entrance, his firearm fell out of the map pocket and onto the street.
Concerned that the weapon might be damaged, he fired it into the air to see if it still worked. Cooper and his team had fanned out in the days following the shooting, taking statements horn anyone and everyone with even the slightest tangential connection to the case.
Vibe employees helping to host the party; passing motorists and the RTD bus driver on the Wilshire route; the Petersen maintenance supervisor; LAFD personnel at the scene; clerks at the various hotels where Biggie and his posse stayed; boyfriends and girlfriends and the family relations of coundess individuals on the scene — virtually no one escaped their attention. A complete investigation of Gecko ammunition, the relatively rare type of slug that killed Biggie, was launched, and the only two distributors in the country, based in California and New Jersey, were contacted.
The sales brochure of a Chevy Impala SS was procured and carefully studied, while the Air Support Division was summoned to fly over a South Central location where a black Impala had been reportedly stashed. Surveillance tapes provided by Petersen security and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were scrutinized, and detectives would fly to Texas to interview the Houston fans who had shot the jittery video from their van across Fairfax in the minutes leading up to the murder.
As a result, additional officers were assigned to serve as a liaison with the New Jersey investigators. Assisting in the early stages of the case was Tim Brennan. But, as is the case with any high-profile investigation, there was also an abundance of complete dead ends. Detectives found themselves, for example, expending valuable time and resources chasing down a random ATM card found at the crime scene that in the end proved to be nothing more than a careless loss by its owner, caught in the stampede outside the Petersen.
Tips, anonymous and otherwise, flooded in. Each one needed to be treated seriously by detectives, but it was an overwhelming task. The fact that investigating officers ultimately failed to find the killer had nothing to do with incompetence or police complicity and everything to do with rampant speculation on the street and in the press. The outcry would reach a near-hysterical pitch in the weeks following the murder, producing a thick cloud of confusion and cross-purposes that hung persistentiy over the case.
But Cooper soldiered on, doggedly continuing with the essential, if often fruitiess, legwork required in any homicide investigation. And, tentative as it might have been, he was beginning to make some headway. Even in those early stages, suggestions of an intriguing connection to another high-profile case were already beginning to surface. Detectives contacted the Las Vegas Police Department, requesting to be updated on developments in the still-unsolved Shakur murder.
The first occurred at a New York recording studio where unknown assailants had shot and gravely wounded Tupac in an apparent robbery attempt. The link between these two incidents and the Biggie shooting was, at best, tenuous, but detectives were increasingly convinced that their investigation would eventually turn on the bloody feud between the gangs and their affiliated rap labels.
The lines Poole would draw between the oudaw elements at Rampart Division and the gang activity swirling around Death Row Records would exert a powerful hold on public perception. The most common misconception is that the officers had been hired as Death Row security. But, while different jurisdictions have different regulations concerning outside employment, no department would ever sanction an officer hiring himself out to a known criminal enterprise.
Of all the possible conjectures our task force would have to wrestie to the ground in the initial phase of the reopened investigation, those put forth by Poole were by far the most entrenched.
He was eventually revealed to be Harry Billups, who, as an avowed Muslim, had changed his name to Amir Muhammad. Billups had a reasonable alibi for paying a call on the prisoner. He and Mack were friends, having attended the University of Oregon together, where they had been on the track and field team.
Yet, through it all, Billups staunchly maintained his innocence. He would subsequendy go on to insist that he could also positively identify the suspect. The resulting encounter quickly devolved into farce as Billups answered the door to find a complete stranger trying to make small talk, all the while being monitored by FBI agents down the street.
The police retreated even as Billups loudly insisted that he wanted to file a complaint. In light of this embarrassing incident, the viability of Harry Billups as a suspect dropped several notches in the estimation of the task force. So, too, did the significance of the black Impala. The vehicle was, in fact, the ride of choice among many gangsters and rap moguls at that time.
Among the half dozen black Impalas that would make an appearance over the course of the investigation was one belonging to Suge Knight, another driven by a bodyguard for DJ Quik, and still others owned by David Mack and Keffe D. Given this abundance of Impalas, the likelihood of finding the actual car used in the murder was, to say the least, not high. We had nothing more to go on than its color, make and year. The absence of any other distinguishing marks, along with the fact that so many Impalas were being driven by suspects and witnesses to the crime, caused us to look elsewhere for a solid lead.
By the early fall of , we had pretty much cleared away enough of the debris that had piled up around the cold case to begin the actual work of a new investigation. The question was where to begin. Knocking down flimsy theories and eliminating false leads was one thing. Building a new case on reliable information was quite another. We had our work cut out for us. With virtually every witness wrung dry years before, we knew we had to come at the investigation from a fresh angle, identifying those who might have undisclosed information and then finding a way to pry it loose.
Fortunately for us, there were more than a few persons of interest in the case who were already in jail, awaiting trial, or serving time on a variety of unrelated charges.
Maybe they could be induced to stop stonewalling and start talking, which meant that we had to have something to bargain with: What we had going for us was the fact that they were almost all gang members. As a result, everyone pretty much knew what was going on with everyone else. There was a lot of talk, gangs ter-to- gangster, as well as the usual bragging and bagging that went on between rival sets.
Word, even of the most incriminating variety, inevitably got around. County Jail awaiting trial on a charge of evading police. Tim Brennan and I paid him a visit in early July.
That evening, Tray was sporting a large diamond-cut medallion stamped with the Death Row logo, a prized piece of bling bestowed on favored associates by Suge Knight. Baby Lane would subsequendy appear on the list of likely suspects Brennan had supplied to detectives in the initial Biggie Smalls investigation.
Tall and rangy with an ice-cold stare, Baby Lane had been arrested for murder in and on a robbery charge the following year.
But his rap sheet paled in comparison with the crimes he was suspected of committing but that could not be proved. They included involvement in a number of drive-by shootings and other gang-related assaults.
He was the quintessential menace to society. But Anderson had simple larceny on his mind that afternoon in the parking lot of the Lakewood Mall. Specifically, he was after the gaudy gold-and-diamond Death Row necklace that Tray was wearing.
Compton police officer Reggie Wright, Jr. They had their chance several weeks later when Tupac and Suge were in Las Vegas to see Mike Tyson take on the WBA heavyweight champion, Bruce Seldon, in one of the more controversial boxing matches in recent sports history.
Also in town for the fight was a contingent of Crips, including Baby Lane. His posse, including Suge, piled on with kicks and blows to the face and torso in a vicious assault that, clocking in at one minute and nine seconds, lasted nearly as long as the championship bout they had just attended.
The entire incident was captured on a hotel security camera, the roving eye of the lens following an attractive woman across the lobby past an elaborate carved glass sculpture.
She suddenly recoils and the camera pans over to record a flurry of blows and kicks, then tracks Tupac and his entourage hurrying across the lobby as security guards scramble to figure out what just happened. What had just happened was the opening round in an all-out gang war. The theory that Baby Lane had shot Tupac later that night as payback for the assault almost immediately gained currency, due in large part to his obvious motivation.
But the famed rapper was hardly the only victim in what would quickly escalate into a bloody free-for-all between Crips and Bloods in the months to come.
He drafted a lengthy Statement of Probable Cause, laying out in great detail the chain reaction of reprisal and retaliation that resulted from the events in Las Vegas.
A stray bullet hit a ten-year-old girl, who was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, while later that evening persons unknown shot at another Crip, Orlando Lanier. Less than a week later the names of two more Crips, Gerode Mack and Johnny Burgie, were added to the bloody tally. As the body count mounted, Bloods held a council of war in Leuders Park, a well-known gang hangout in Compton.
The message relayed by the Piru shot-callers to their troops was clear: In gangster parlance, it was on, and it would become one of the deadliest conflicts in Los Angeles gang history. Given the distinct possibility that both Tupac and Biggie had been prime targets in the mayhem that had its origins in the Lakewood Mall and MGM Grand episodes, it made sense for Brennan and me to try to elicit more information from Tray.
He had, after all, been a key player in both confrontations. If Tray had kept the truth to himself for so long, why would he talk to us now? Our hope was that he might be willing to bargain information in exchange for leniency on the charge he was facing. That number is the length of a sentence beyond which they are willing to serve. For some, getting put away for two, four or even six years is no problem Most gangsters have, after all, been in jail off and on their whole lives.
But when the sentence begins to stretch into double digits they start to look for ways out, most commonly by assisting authorities in ongoing investigations. But you also have to be careful.
Facing stiff sentences, criminals have nothing to lose by telling you what they think you want to hear. Cutting deals with talkative convicts can be a treacherous business. But it became apparent almost from the moment that Brennan and I showed up at the L. As soon as we started asking questions about the Lakewood Mall episode, we could almost see him shutting down in front of us.
It was clear we were getting nowhere. We had come up empty on our first fishing expedition. Given the dearth of any fresh information in the case we had no choice but to stick with our strategy of finding someone we could possibly turn.
Since we all grew up together, I consider them my friends. Whether or not Corey Edwards was a bone fide gangster, his criminal activity would have certainly qualified him for an honorary membership in any set. He had, for example, been singled out by the Drug Enforcement Agency, among others, for suspected cocaine trafficking. Edwards had, in fact, had a close call several years earlier in connection with the Tupac shooting.
His associate, Bobby Finch, had become one of the first victims of the gang war sparked by the murder. Finch lived next door to Edwards in Compton and the word on the street was that the hit had really been intended for Corey. Despite his protests to the contrary his close connection to the Crips had almost gotten him killed. In August , after an extensive investigation by federal authorities, Edwards was indicted in Columbus on cocaine conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Dre, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. The legacies of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace—a. The Notorious B. So does their rivalry, one of the greatest in music history. In 2pac vs. Biggie, hip hop experts Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey take an entirely new approach to investigation of that rivalry. Search Books Search. Biggie Kobo eBook. Description Hip hop icons and rap innovators, the Notorious B. May 14th, Language:His busy schedule also included a Vibe magazine interview back at the Westwood Marquee.
In many ways, I was carrying on the work that Joannie had begun when, in , 1 too became caught up in the George Torres case. But prosecuting attorney Carter Janssen knows that his daughter is about to hit one major roadblock.
He had, in fact, partnered with Russell Poole on various aspects of the case and had come out on record as saying that allegations of involvement by Rampart officers in the Wallace killing might well be true. The detective had paid a visit to the Montebello City Jail, where David Mack was being held for bank robbery. Instead we sent them the gun in question, and asked them to test-fire it directly and compare the casings themselves.
As the evening drew on, we racked out brains trying figure out where they might have gone instead.
The facts, as clearly heard in the music itself, suggested otherwise.
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