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Kading now says the blame fell squarely upon the U.S. Attorney's Office and prosecutor Tim Searight. Searight declined to comment to the Weekly.
Most of Judge Wilson's key attacks upon the prosecutors did not blame Kading, even if much of the media coverage (including this paper's) tended to paint Kading as a villain.
Wilson admonished Searight, not Kading, for failing to collect all available recordings of phone calls between Kading and Derrick Smith at a Santa Ana jail. The defense later obtained many older phone recordings on its own, and Wilson made clear it was the U.S. Attorney's fault. "The prosecution basically got caught doing something they didn't know was wrong, but the judge ruled it a discovery violation," Kading says.
Kading had properly handed his notebooks of interviews to the prosecution. But it was Searight who decided not to give them to Torres' lawyers. Again, the defense attorney found out, and again, Wilson hammered Searight.
Also, the U.S. Attorney's Office redacted everything in Kading's journals that was not pertinent to Torres, but the defense found blacked-out entries that did relate to Torres. For the third time, Wilson determined that a discovery violation had occurred.
A half-dozen lesser allegations that irritated Judge Wilson mostly involved phone snippets played during the trial that implied Kading was making promises to Smith and Del Real to get them to testify. Kading says they were all egregiously taken out of context, and LAPD's Internal Affairs appears to have agreed. None were serious violations of court discovery rules. They included:
In one snippet, Kading was made to sound as if he had helped Del Real's brother, Albert, evade spousal-abuse charges. Kading says that, in fact, he facilitated Albert's surrender to local cops and nothing more.
In another defense snippet, Kading talked to Derrick Smith about "big money" — proof, Torres' lawyers alleged, that Kading was trying to bribe a star witness. But Kading says the "big money" was an official $50,000 reward being offered in an entirely different case that Smith knew something about.
Kading also told Smith in a recorded phone call, "It's always this way, man. I have to come up with the answers and tell you — and then you just say, 'Yeah, you're right.' " Kading explains to the Weekly that it was an innocent use of words, played wildly out of context. Criminals "are more comfortable affirming information than providing it. That's what I meant. I tell them what I think and they tell me if I'm right or not."
Kading says he never got the chance to clear up the confusion because he was never called to testify. He says Searight decided not to call him to the witness stand because the prosecutor thought the defense lawyers would call Kading instead. But Searight had guessed wrong — the defense never called on Kading, who was forced to sit silently while the attacks on him in court piled up.
"I was sitting there pulling out my hair saying, 'Searight, defend my fucking honor,' " says Kading. "But it never happened."
About a year later, LAPD — led by new Chief Charlie Beck — chose to not make any public statement that its probe had cleared Kading, whose life was falling apart. His wife had temporarily left him. He'd put in more than two decades as an admired officer and detective, yet Beck, a top-drawer detective himself, left Kading to twist in the wind. Kading was branded a dishonest cop, as any Google search will confirm.
Long before Kading stepped into what many believe to be the "cursed" unsolved mystery of Shakur's and Smalls' murders, a storm of rumors and news stories suggested that a few bad apples within the LAPD had been involved in Smalls' killing.
Respected Robbery-Homicide Detective Russell Poole, who inherited the Biggie Smalls case from the Wilshire Division a month after the rapper was shot, had developed a growing suspicion that a handful of rogue cops, taking orders from Suge Knight, were accomplices in Smalls' murder — and that corrupt LAPD officials, under then-Chief Bernard Parks, had rushed to cover their bloody trail.
Poole's theory quickly gained solid ground in high places, and motivated Voletta Wallace to sue LAPD in federal court.
Journalist Randall Sullivan devoted both a sprawling Rolling Stone article and a popular novel to Poole's allegations.
Corrupt LAPD Officer David Mack, poster boy for the late-1990s Rampart scandal that would come to cast doubt on much of what LAPD said and did, lurched to the forefront of Poole's investigation after Mack was arrested for an unrelated $722,000 bank heist.