The Estate of Christopher
"The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace won a decision June 21 to bring a wrongful
death suit against the Los Angeles Police Department, which is accused of being
complicit in the rapper’s murder.
The wrongful death
was filed by Wallace’s mother Voletta and his widow, Faith Evans. The lawsuit
focuses on a former LAPD officer, David Mack, who has been implicated in the
Mack, a member
of the Bloods street gang, is currently serving a 14-year sentence in federal
prison for robbing a bank. Central to the lawsuit is a concept, “under
color of law,” where a person or persons commits a crime under authority
of the law.
Wallace was gunned
down at an intersection near the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles,
after he attended an after party for the Soul Train Music Awards. Attorney’s
for the LAPD argued that since Mack was off-duty the night Wallace was murdered,
he was not working within his boundaries as an LAPD officer if it is proven
that he committed the crime.
According to a
June 30 judgment, the investigation indicates that Mack had knowledge only privy
to the LAPD, including surveillance information and Wallace’s exit plan
from the after-party, which police frequently review when patrolling large events.
that police radios were used to monitor the location and response of law enforcement
to the shooting, as well as to facilitate escaping after the shooting, concealing
the vehicle, and disposing of the weapon,” Judge Florence-Marie Cooper
means that Wallace’s estate now has to prove that Mack was “acting,
purporting to act, or pretending to act in the performance of his or her official
If that cannot
be proven, the Judge said that Mack could have been acting as a private citizen
and that the LAPD could not be held accountable for his actions.
Cooper also stated
“it is the nature of the act performed, not the clothing of the actor
or even the status of being on duty or off duty, which determines whether the
officer has acted under the color of law.”
estate is pursuing a theory by former LAPD detective Russell Poole, who claims
that Mack and another man, Amir Muhammad, shot Wallace on orders from Death
Row CEO Suge Knight, a claim Knight and Muhammad have denied.
"I have stated
from the outset that I have nothing whatsoever to do with any of this,"
Muhammad told the LA Times in March. "I’ve done nothing wrong. I don’t
have anything to hide."
Mack owned a black
impala, similar to the one reported at the scene and a witness reported seeing
him when Wallace was murdered. A driver’s license photo of Muhammad resembles
the police sketch of Wallace’s killer, based on witness descriptions.
One witness even
claims to have seen Muhammad himself outside of the Peterson museum the night
of the shooting. Former LAPD Detective Russell Poole, who advanced the theory,
will testify as an expert witness.