It’s been five years since the murder of Notorious B.I.G., one of Los Angeles’ most infamous unsolved crimes. Biggie’s family, however, doesn’t consider it such a mystery. His widow, singer Faith Evans, and his mother, Voletta Wallace, along with other heirs, filed a federal civil suit including wrongful death charges on Tuesday, accusing current and former police chiefs of interfering with the murder investigation because it would have revealed corruption within the force.
The theory behind the suit isn’t a new one. In June it was the subject of a lengthy feature in Rolling Stone: “The Murder of the Notorious B.I.G.: Gangster Cops, Suge Knight and the LAPD Scandal” by writer Randall Sullivan, who has since written a book on the case.
In the piece, Sullivan excavated connections between criminals, cops and musicians that inform much of the suit, which repeatedly cites revelations about the murder investigation that were unknown to the Wallace family until publication of the article. In keeping with Sullivan’s theories, the suit alleges that former police officer David Mack conspired with a man named Amir Muhammad to murder Biggie.
The suit claims police should have known about and should have attempted to prevent the fatal March 9, 1997, drive-by shooting that killed Notorious B.I.G. The slaying took place after a Vibe magazine party he’d been at was closed due to overcrowding.
The LAPD “knew or reasonably should have known there was an atmosphere of violence and alleged criminality” surrounding Biggie’s rivals at Death Row Records, that Death Row was associated with “suspected and convicted criminals… and a certain street gang,” and that people at the label and in “an affiliated street gang” had exhibited animosity toward Biggie, the suit alleges.
It goes on to say the LAPD contributed to the atmosphere of violence – a byproduct of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry between Bad Boy and Death Row artists – by failing to “investigate, discipline, or prosecute… officers involved with Death Row Records or an affiliated street gang.”
“As soon as it became apparent officers employed by the Los Angeles Police Department were involved in the murder,” the suit says, current LAPD chief Bernard Parks “intentionally, willfully and recklessly delayed and stopped the investigation” to protect the force and the city. Former LAPD chiefs Willie Williams and Bayan Lewis are also named.
One example cited in the suit relates Wallace’s claim that she phoned police after receiving an anonymous call telling her a man named “D. Mack” was involved in the killing. Without mentioning their own “D. Mack,” officer David Mack, the LAPD allegedly brushed her off by telling her there are more than 500 “D. Mack”s in the phonebook. David Mack is currently serving a 14-year federal prison term for robbing a bank in 1997 and has made no secret of his association with the Bloods.
LAPD spokesperson Jason Lee declined to comment, citing a department policy against making statements about ongoing lawsuits. Mack and Amir have previously denied involvement in Wallace’s murder.