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Kevin McClure, who supervised the task force as head of the Robbery-Homicide Division, confirms that he got approval from LAPD brass to dismantle the team. Now chief of police in Montebello, McClure says Kading's perception is skewed.
"I have no problems with Greg," McClure says. "But investigators are like softball parents: Their kid is always better than your kid. We followed every viable lead that we had at the time and pushed it to the point where we needed something else to occur in order to move the case forward. And that something — someone else coming forward to corroborate what we had — didn't happen."
Voletta Wallace decided to withdraw her final lawsuit against LAPD in April 2010. Shortly afterward, McClure decided to jam a spike in the investigation, Kading says.
Voletta Wallace's lawyer, Perry Sanders, tells the Weekly he suspended her lawsuit in part because she and the federal judge on the case strongly believed that LAPD was relaunching the investigation in full force. Sanders says he can't remember which LAPD official under Beck made this promise, but definitely recalls it being made.
In fact, Beck's detectives were doing the opposite. By the time Kading was cleared of wrongdoing in the Torres–Numero Uno case, the Biggie Smalls investigation had been called off. Kading writes in Murder Rap that his former teammates carried all of the team's hard-earned evidence to the LAPD archive room to collect dust. Feeling frustrated and betrayed, Kading resigned.
McClure says it was his decision to shelve the case, and the Beck administration merely went along.
"I was the commander over Robbery-Homicide," McClure says. "I managed the case, I made the recommendation to my superiors as to what I wanted to do, had concurrence to do it and, I'll be quite honest with you, I'd do it again right now. It was the right decision."
Not only had the Shakur and Smalls investigations hit dead ends, he says, but McClure needed his elite detectives for more pressing matters.
"After Greg left, we finally made the decision," McClure says. "I had other cases: the Grim Sleeper, Michael Jackson. I had to prioritize — and it's not like I had unlimited resources."
Until this month's release of Murder Rap, the only real opposition to Detective Russell Poole's conspiracy theories about corrupt cops was a series of Los Angeles Times articles written by Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Chuck Philips. After speaking with a handful of gang members, Philips wrote a 2002 front-page article accusing Biggie Smalls of paying the Crips $1 million to knock off his West Coast competition. The piece was almost entirely based on anonymous sources. Voletta Wallace was horrified.
In Murder Rap, though, almost all of LAPD's informants are on the record. The allegations that blame Tupac Shakur's murder on Sean Combs tend to strengthen a different, yet equally controversial, L.A. Times article from 2008, in which Philips fingers Combs for initially setting up a bloody mugging of Shakur in 1994, two years before he was killed in Las Vegas. That article was later retracted by Times editors because it quoted FBI court documents that turned out to have been faked by a rap-scene gadfly. After Philips and his editors mistakenly quoted from the faked documents, Philips was pushed out by the Times.
Combs may take heat for these new revelations — or he may not. After losing Biggie Smalls, he expanded his hip-hop empire — newly titled Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide — to encompass the film, restaurant and apparel industries. As his net worth has skyrocketed to nearly $500 million, his image has softened at the same rate: He's a mentor to tween heartthrob Justin Bieber and an MTV reality-show regular.
Knight is having a tougher time. TMZ recently reported that he is pulling in only about $1,200 a month — chump change compared to the glittering Death Row dynasty of old. This could be the result of his strict no-snitching policy, which would have prevented him from taking an informant deal to avoid the many years he has spent behind bars.
Knight's downfall also could be due to his inability to let go of the past: "A lot of these dudes say they love 'Pac, but at the same time they be doing shit like ... Puffy," Knight told TMZ earlier this year. "Once now all of the truth comes out on all the people who did 'Pac wrong, we still gotta be back on that mission."