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B.I.G.'s family seeks to expand lawsuit

Rapper's relatives eye L.A. police officer as they continue legal fight
/ Source: The Associated Press

The family of Notorious B.I.G. has asked a judge for permission to expand its wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, contending police Officer Rafael Perez was on duty at Petersen Automotive Museum the night of the killing.

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

Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was fatally shot in 1997 in a sport utility vehicle shortly after a party in Los Angeles.

The Wallace family’s attorneys alleged that Vincent Marella, a private attorney defending the city, said in a court hearing July 5 that Perez was in uniform and involved in the rapper’s shooting.

The full transcripts from the hearing, however, show that Marella was only repeating an informant’s allegations.

Perez is not named as a defendant in the proposed new lawsuit, nor are other alleged participants, including former officer David Mack, Death Row Records owner Marion “Suge” Knight or a former suspect, Amir Muhammad. All four men have denied involvement in the slaying. The city remains the only defendant.

Still unsolved, the killing has fueled conspiracy theories. Attorneys for the Wallace family allege that officers, working for a rival rap label, Death Row Records, played a role.

After four days of testimony last summer, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper declared a mistrial. Cooper said a police detective had hidden statements by a jailhouse informant linking the killing to Mack and Perez.

The judge ordered the city to pay the family’s attorney fees and costs as sanctions for withholding evidence.