Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hip-Hop Homicide

Theories

Detective Russell Poole
Detective Russell Poole

In 1999, Detective Russell Poole resigned from the LAPD in anger and frustration over what he perceived to be the city's deliberate unwillingness to let him get to the bottom of the Notorious B.I.G. murder. The shooter, Amir Muhammad, was connected to Mob Piru cop David Mack who was connected to Suge Knight. The evidence Poole had collected increasingly pointed the finger at the Death Row founder. But Knight had friends in high places.

Amir Muhammad
Amir Muhammad

According to Randall Sullivan in LAbyrinth, Knight had a guardian angel in LA County Deputy District Attorney Lawrence Longo. When Knight was facing sentencing for the brutal beating of record promoter Mark Bell, Longo "recommended a nine-year suspended sentence, with five years of probation" even though ten months earlier Knight had pleaded guilty to felony assault. (In Have Gun Will Travel, Ronin Ro reports that in July of 1992 Knight had "pistol-whipped" George and Lynwood Stanley, a rap duo, then forced them to strip naked and robbed them because they had dared to use a pay phone at the Death Row offices when Knight was expecting a call.) Knight served a one-month sentence at a halfway house as a result of the Bell assault. A few months later, Deputy DA Longo's daughter became Death Row Records' first white recording artist, and Suge Knight moved into Longo's Malibu Colony home, renting it for $19,000 a month.

Have Gun Will Travel
Have Gun Will Travel

But if Knight in fact was the man who ordered Notorious B.I.G.'s murder, what was Knight's motive? Some have speculated that it was simply payback for Tupac Shakur's murder. Knight had lost the best-selling rapper in the Death Row stable, so he wanted Puffy Combs and Bad Boy Entertainment to suffer an equal loss — an eye for an eye.

Others believe that the Crips were responsible for both murders. One theory holds that Notorious B.I.G. had agreed to pay the Crips for killing Shakur, then changed his mind and reneged. His punishment for stiffing the Crips was a death sentence. Another theory claims that Bad Boy Entertainment had asked Crip members to work as bodyguards while they were in L.A. for the Soul Train Music Awards, but the gang's price was more than Puffy Combs had wanted to pay, so he hired off-duty Inglewood cops instead. Killing Biggie was the Crips' response to getting their walking papers.

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