Los Angeles city officials Wednesday rejected a demand for $18 million by the family of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. to end a lawsuit that accuses two former Los Angeles policemen of conspiring in the 1997 murder.
Lawyers for the family said they had sought a settlement to spare the city further litigation over the death of the rapper born Christopher Wallace, who was shot to death at the age of 24 after leaving a party in Los Angeles.
“We’re giving the city the chance to stand up and do the right thing and not be painted with the really ugly brush that people in the LAPD could be painted with,” attorney Perry Sanders said.
In suing the city and police department, five members of Wallace’s family said they were trying to shed light on the death of the rapper, who was also known as “Biggie Smalls.”
They charge that rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight told a corrupt former LAPD officer, David Mack, to kill Wallace as part of a long-running feud between East Coast and West Coast rap labels and in retaliation for the murder of West Coast star Tupac Shakur six months earlier in Las Vegas.
Mack, the family contends, enlisted his partner, Rafael Perez, and a college roommate to carry out the killing.
Councilman Dennis Zine dismissed that theory after voting to reject the settlement demand.
“To my knowledge there’s been no connection established with the police department,” Zine said. “Why would we pay if we’re not culpable of anything? They’re trying to hold the taxpayers responsible and based on the media reports I’ve seen there has been no link (to the officers).”
The lawsuit went to trial earlier this year but was halted when U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper discovered that evidence linking Mack and Perez to the crime had been concealed in the desk drawer of a Los Angeles police detective.
In a blistering rebuke to the detective, Steven Katz, the judge declared a mistrial in the case and said she would sanction the defendants by ordering them to pay the family’s attorneys fees and costs.
The family members, who include Wallace’s widow, singer Faith Evans, were expected to refile their lawsuit and would be allowed to present the newly discovered evidence at trial.
The family has also asked a federal judge to award them more than $2 million in attorneys fees and costs after finding that another LAPD officer hid key evidence in his desk, forcing a mistrial in the case.
Plaintiff’s attorney Sanders said that in submitting fees and costs of more than $2 million “we tried to be conservative” but that the case had already involved “a lot of lawyers working a very long time.”