An Extra B.I.G. Suit
by Natalie Finn
Wed Apr 18, 1:09 PM ET Los Angeles (E! Online)
- Notorious B.I.G.'s relatives are stating their case once again.
The family of the slain rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, filed another wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles Monday, this time naming former L.A. Police Department Officers Raphael Perez and Nino Durden as defendants, as well.
Because this suit contains allegations pertaining to the state, it was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The family's original suit was filed (then tossed out and set to be retried) in federal court.
In court documents filed Monday, Bigige's mother Voletta Wallace & Co. charge that ex-LAPD Officer Rafael Perez conspired with fellow ex-Officer David Mack (now in prison for bank robbery) to kill Wallace as he was leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard.
Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, was gunned down in his SUV while waiting at a stoplight after leaving the party on Mar. 9, 1997.
Perez "has made specific statements that he, together with David Mack, conspired to murder and participated in the murder of Christopher Wallace" and Durden was on duty with Perez when the killing occurred, the suit alleges.
The complaint also states that, while he was working as a cop, Perez was also a member of a street gang that took orders from Suge Knight's Death Row Records. Knight was also looked at as a suspect in Biggie's killing in light of the murder coming six months after Death Row star Tupac Shakur was shot to death in Las Vegas.
Both Perez and Durden were eventually charged with stealing drugs and other infractions as part of the corruption scandal that occurred within the LAPD's Rampart division.
It may have been Perez's "specific statements" that mucked up the Wallaces' first case. They were awarded $1.1 million in the summer of 2005 when U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper declared a mistrial, after the plaintiffs' attorney, Perry Sanders, said that he received an anonymous phone call tipping him off to the LAPD's knowledge of a jailhouse informant said to have talked to Perez about the disgraced cop's supposed involvement in the shooting.
In May 2006, however, counsel for the city of L.A. presented Cooper with a four-page report dating back to 2002 showing that the Wallace family had hired an investigator to interview the informant who Sanders seemed awfully surprised about in 2005.
Needless to say, Cooper was none too pleased with Sanders, who maintained that he had disclosed the report to the city before the civil trial began
The plaintiffs' attorney called the defense lawyers' actions "a desperate attempt to prevent additional discovery about police misconduct," trying to revert blame back toward the city and the LAPD for allegedly instigating a cover-up.
Deciding that Sanders would have probably been loath to believe the informant without having official corroboration of his credibility, Cooper granted a retrial. Proceedings were supposed to being Feb. 27 but have since been postponed.
In their second suit, Wallace's relatives estimate that they may have incurred as much as $500 million in losses since the Ready to Die rapper's death.
Judging by the fans' reaction to the March 2007 release of Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits (number-one debut, 99,000 copies sold its first week out of the gateó10 years after his killing), the family's calculations could be in the ballpark.
Meanwhile, LAPD Chief William Bratton appointed a six-person taskforce last summer to reopen the investigation into the hip-hop star's murder, hoping to dispel the ongoing speculation that the boys in blue didn't do their jobs properly the first time around.