The Notorious B.I.G. was shot to death eight years ago this week outside an afterparty in Los Angeles for the VIBE Awards. After the case had gone unsolved for more than six years, the FBI began to look into it in late 2003. Now, the bureau has told the Los Angeles Times that the FBI quietly abandoned the probe in January after failing to find sufficient evidence to prosecute anyone. But the late rapper’s family isn’t buying that explanation.
Biggie’s mom, Voletta Wallace, has a pending lawsuit against the city, alleging that the L.A. Police Department covered up the involvement of cops in her son’s death. Her attorney, Perry Sanders, told the Times that the LAPD ”exerted political pressure on the FBI to lay off the case.” FBI Assistant Director Richard T. Garcia, head of the L.A. office, disputes that accuation. ”No one at the FBI was asked or directed to stop anything,” he told the Times.
The prevalent theory about Biggie’s death is that it resulted from the East Coast-West Coast rap feud that had claimed the life of the New York-based rapper’s biggest rival, Cali-based Tupac Shakur, six months earlier. (Shakur’s 1996 shooting, which occurred while Tupac was riding in a car with Death Row Records label chief Suge Knight in Las Vegas, also remains unsolved.) One theory was that Knight commissioned David Mack, (then an L.A. cop and now a convict serving time for bank robbery) to orchestrate the killing, and that Mack farmed it out to another man, Amir Muhammad. Knight, Mack, and Muhammad have long denied any role in Biggie’s death, and the FBI was unable to find any new information that tied them to the crime.
The FBI told the Times it was a coincidence that it shut down the probe after officials learned that Agent Philip J. Carson, who’d launched the investigation, had been in contact with Voletta Wallace’s lawyers and was listed as a potential witness for the plaintiff. Both Carson and FBI officials told the Times that he had not shared information with the Wallace lawyers.