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Tupac bodyguard testifies at B.I.G. trial

Suit alleges a cover-up of officer's involvement by L.A.P.D.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former FBI informant and key witness in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful death trial has backed away from a previous statement linking a rogue police officer to Death Row Records.

Kevin Hackie’s testimony on Wednesday was a blow to the slain New York rapper’s family, which has filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and its police department. The trial was to resume Thursday.

Hackie, a former bodyguard for rapper Tupac Shakur, denied several remarks attributed to him in a June 2004 declaration prepared by plaintiffs’ attorneys, including an assertion that a former officer, David Mack, “was a covert agent” for Death Row Records.

For eight years, the mystery of who gunned down Notorious B.I.G. — and why — has frustrated and fascinated the hip-hop world and fueled media interest. With FBI and police investigations failing to net even a suspect, a swirl of theories implicated corrupt cops, gang hits, bicoastal beefs — or all three at once. None have been provable, so far.

Both sides presented opening statements Tuesday, and B.I.G.’s mother Voletta Wallace dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as an attorney recounted the night of her 24-year-old son’s death.

Christopher Wallace was killed shortly after midnight March 9, 1997, on a Los Angeles road after someone fired seven shots into his sport utility vehicle. Wallace was heading to a hotel following an awards show after-party.

The lawsuit claims LAPD officials covered up Mack’s involvement in the slaying and ignored a systemic problem of potentially dangerous moonlighting. The family claims a number of off-duty officers associated with gang members while providing security for Death Row Records, home of Wallace’s West Coast rival, Tupac Shakur.

Shakur was slain on the Las Vegas Strip in 1996 — six months before Wallace was killed, and the two are forever linked in hip-hop culture.

In Wednesday’s testimony, Hackie said that Death Row security chief Reginald Wright wanted to retaliate against B.I.G. following the slaying of the label’s star, Shakur. Hackie was an FBI informant while serving as Shakur’s bodyguard for three years.

Hackie testified that Wright told him after Shakur was killed, “We were going to get those (people) who downed ’Pac — Biggie and his crew.”

Hackie also said he saw Mack at numerous Death Row events, sometimes speaking with the record label’s leader, Marion “Suge” Knight. But under cross-examination Hackie acknowledged that he only saw the officer with Knight and associates at large parties or “social functions.”

Both Mack and the alleged shooter, Amir Muhammad, have been dropped from the family’s lawsuit and have never been named as criminal suspects.

When Hackie took the stand, he explained that he did not want to be in court because “this is all going to be on the 6 o’clock news” and he feared “retribution by the Bloods, the Los Angeles Police Department and associates of Death Row Records.”

Attorneys in the case have said several witnesses are refusing to appear because they feared retaliation.