A barrel-chested black man with a front tooth missing, relaxed yet instinctively cautious, is seated across from four spellbound cops in a glass-walled conference room at 8200 Wilshire Blvd.
This is not the first time a gangster has done business at this Beverly Hills office building. It once served as the bullet-riddled headquarters of the now-defunct Death Row Records, run by Bloods with a strict policy of never talking to cops. But for Duane "Keffe D" Keith Davis, a shot caller for the Southside Crips, it now happens to be his lawyer's office. And on this surreal morning on Dec. 18, 2008, Keffe D is going to snitch.
Keffe D tells the cops he was offered $1 million to kill Death Row rapper Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight, the label's former CEO. The informant tells his interrogators in plain language, albeit at a cool street clip, that Sean Combs — then known as Puff Daddy, the ringmaster of Bad Boy Entertainment, Death Row Records' bitter cross-country rival — commissioned Shakur's legendary murder in Vegas in September 1996. (Knight would survive that night's shooting with a bullet wound to the head.)
Six months later, Bad Boy Entertainment rap star Christopher Wallace, best known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G., was shot to death in L.A. In the decade and a half since the two most famous homicides in hip-hop history, police have made no arrests.
Now, in the pages of his potentially game-changing self-published book Murder Rap, set for release Oct. 4, former Los Angeles Police Department Detective Greg Kading reveals that LAPD has been sitting on extensive tapes and documents containing confessions from key players behind the alleged assassinations of Shakur and Smalls (Wallace). LAPD higher-ups pulled Kading off the double investigation right when he was poised to drive it home, he says. Then they shut it down completely. An LAPD spokesman insists in an email that the case is still "active/ongoing" but that no further information is available. If true, this means the LAPD has only in the past couple of months revived the probe.
Perhaps luckily for the rappers' families and fans still seeking closure, Kading made copies of nearly every investigative report and taped confession before he left LAPD. His explosive book details the behind-the-scenes failure by LAPD to bring Shakur's and Smalls' killers to justice.
In a taped confession fully reviewed by L.A. Weekly, Keffe D says, "[Combs] took me downstairs and he's like, 'Man, I want to get rid of them dudes.' ... I was like, 'We'll wipe their ass out, quick. It's nothing.' ... We wanted a million." In another stunning confession, detailed in LAPD documents reviewed by the Weekly, the mother of one of Knight's children, identified in Kading's book as "Theresa Swann," breaks down in tears, stating that the former Death Row boss gave her the money to pay Wardell "Poochie" Fouse — Knight's close associate and a fellow member of the Mob Piru Bloods — to kill Smalls.
Keffe D is up against a wall at the time he fingers Combs for Shakur's murder. The federal and local agents gathered around him at the conference table, including Kading, have spent the last year cornering him as the kingpin of a nationwide PCP ring, and Keffe D is looking at 25 years to life if he doesn't reveal his secrets.
Sean Combs told the Weekly via email: "This story is pure fiction and completely ridiculous." Suge Knight could not be reached.
In his confession, Keffe D takes the officers on a trip back to the night Shakur died. Keffe D places himself in the passenger seat of the old white Cadillac that famously pulled up, full of Crips, on the right side of the BMW carrying Shakur and Knight toward a club just off the Vegas Strip.
Sitting in the backseat of the Cadillac, according to Keffe D, was his own nephew, Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, who got his ass kicked in the MGM Grand lobby earlier in the evening by Shakur's posse over a piece of Death Row bling that Baby Lane supposedly had stolen.
Keffe D tells Kading on tape that his nephew "leaned over, and Orlando [Baby Lane] rolled down the window and popped him [Shakur]." Later, he adds, "If they would've drove on my side [of the car] I would've popped him."
Keffe D gave the FBI a different story in 1997, denying his nephew was involved. In his December 2008 confession, however, the tape indicates Keffe D will only be held immune from his admissions if none of his statements, including on Shakur's murder, are shown to be false.