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Family of Slain Rapper Asks to Expand Lawsuit

July 12, 2006|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Lawyers for the family of Notorious B.I.G. asked a judge Tuesday for permission to expand their wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, contending that disgraced Rampart Division police Officer Rafael Perez was on duty at Petersen Automotive Museum the night of the slaying.

The request was included in a 94-page motion citing a list of incidents, which the family contends show a pattern linking police to crimes involving rap luminaries, including Snoop Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur.

Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was fatally shot March 9, 1997, in a sport utility vehicle shortly after a music industry party at the museum on Wilshire Boulevard.

The unsolved slaying has fueled conspiracy theories and the wrongful-death suit in which attorneys for the Wallace family promised to prove that officers, working for a rival rap label, Death Row Records, played a role in the killing.

Perez is not named as a defendant in the proposed new suit, nor are other alleged participants, including former LAPD officer and convicted bank robber David A. Mack, Death Row Records owner Marion "Suge" Knight or the alleged triggerman, Amir Muhammad. All four men have denied involvement in the slaying. The city remains the only defendant.

Jurors heard four days of testimony in the family's case last summer before U.S. District Judge Florence Marie Cooper declared a mistrial, declaring that a Los Angeles Police Department detective had hidden statements by a jailhouse informant linking the killing to Mack and Perez.

Cooper ordered the city to pay the family's attorney fees and costs as sanctions for withholding evidence.

In the latest turn in the case, the Wallace family's attorneys alleged that Vincent Marella, a private attorney defending the city, admitted in a court hearing July 5 that Perez was in uniform and involved in the rapper's shooting.

The full transcripts from the court hearing, however, show that Vincent Marella was only repeating the informant's allegations. Marella declined to comment Tuesday.

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