Twist in B.I.G. Lawsuit

Twist in B.I.G. Lawsuit
Civil trial witness denies saying a suspect in the rapper’s slaying worked for Death Row Records.
By Andrew Blankstein
Times Staff Writer

June 23, 2005

A key witness in the Notorious B.I.G. wrongful-death suit denied Wednesday that he had offered sworn testimony that a rival record label employed a rogue Los Angeles police officer who allegedly orchestrated the rapper’s 1997 murder.

The family of B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, had called Kevin Hackie, a former Death Row Records bodyguard and onetime FBI informant, to testify that then-LAPD Officer David A. Mack worked security or in another “covert capacity” for the L.A.-based Death Row label.

But on the stand, Hackie denied making that statement, contained in a June 6, 2004, sworn declaration and submitted to the court by B.I.G. family lawyers.

“I didn’t put it in there,” Hackie testified.

Hackie’s hour of sometimes erratic and contradictory testimony was a setback for the Wallace family, which claims that Mack and Death Row Records chief Marion “Suge” Knight conspired to kill B.I.G. as part of a long-running and violent feud with his label, New York’s Bad Boy Entertainment. The crime allegedly was payback for the slaying of Death Row luminary Tupac Shakur the year before.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has ordered family members to prove that Mack arranged the Wallace killing before they can proceed with their suit. Mack, who is serving an 18-year state prison sentence for bank robbery, has denied any involvement in the crime. And Hackie was the prime witness linking Mack to the other alleged co-conspirators in Wallace’s fatal shooting March 9, 1997, following a rap industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard. Despite investigations by the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI, the case remains unsolved.

Hackie, a former Compton Unified School District officer, also denied saying Mack had special access to “numerous Death Row functions” reserved for Knight’s close associates.

Those events, Hackie told the six-man, three-woman jury, were actually functions attended by hundreds of people, including a Mike Tyson fight.

Wallace family lawyers Wednesday also called former Police Chief Bernard C. Parks to try to show that the LAPD covered up the Wallace slaying. Parks testified that he was not aware of specific leads.

Wallace family attorney Rob Frank also questioned Tim Brennan, a Los Angeles sheriff’s detective and expert on the Mob Piru Bloods, the street gang that Wallace family attorneys say was allied with Knight.

Frank asked Brennan whether a letter with the words “MOB” and “Westsiders” next to Mack’s signature, and a photograph of the former officer dressed in the Bloods signature color, red, indicated that the ex-cop was a gangster.

Brennan said he saw no evidence that Mack was in the gang.

The detective, however, raised an alternative theory of the Wallace slaying: that Crip gang members killed the rapper because he had rejected their offer to provide him with security.

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