Cop's Book Says Sean Combs, Suge Knight Ordered Tupac and Biggie Killings
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.
Kading tells him on tape: "Everything in this report has to be right on, because if down the road it's determined that some of these details are incorrect, then everything's off the table." Keffe D responds, "Don't bullshit me, and I won't bullshit y'all."
Keffe D's and Theresa Swann's confessions were stunning but in no way sudden. They were the fruit of an intensive investigation by a special task force of LAPD officers plus agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation that had begun years earlier, in May 2006.
The team's official mission was solving Biggie Smalls' murder, while Shakur's murder case was under the jurisdiction of Las Vegas police. Smalls, a 400-pound Brooklyn native, was slain in a March 1997 drive-by shooting while rolling out of a star-studded party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A.'s Miracle Mile.
At the time the multi-agency task force was formed by the LAPD, Smalls' mother, Voletta Wallace, was suing the City of Los Angeles for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars because she believed dirty cops had been involved in her son's murder.
"There was a real possibility that the suit would end up being among the most expensive the department had ever had to pay out," Kading writes in Murder Rap. "So it came as no surprise that the brass wasted no time in putting together a task force to finally solve the 9-year-old case, find the killer, and hopefully exonerate the police in the process."
But investigators on the special task force determined early on that the two cases were as inseparable as the street-gang rivalries that ran through them.
Sure enough, just five months after Keffe D alleged he'd watched his nephew, "Baby Lane" Anderson, kill Shakur on orders from Sean Combs, Kading's investigative team hit a second home run when one of Suge Knight's baby mommas fingered Knight as having handed her the money to pay for Smalls' murder.
Kading describes the woman as a well-kept beauty in her early 40s with a slim figure and trademark hoop earrings — although the stress of being one of Knight's ladies-in-waiting, through the rise and fall of his L.A. rap empire, had begun to take its toll, physically.
She's named "Theresa Swann" in Murder Rap for her own protection. L.A. Weekly has verified her identity as Knight's longtime lover and business associate but has chosen not to reveal her name. Kading planned to notify her last weekend that Murder Rap was going to print. He says federal agents are prepared to relocate her if necessary, to assure her safety in the wake of its publication.
Her confession is summarized in an official LAPD report reviewed by L.A. Weekly:
"During one or more of [Swann's prison visits], Knight instructed [Swann] to help him coordinate the murder of Christopher Wallace. Knight directed [Swann] to contact 'Poochie' and advise him that Knight wanted Wallace murdered in exchange for an unspecified amount of money."
The team of feds and LAPD officers believed they were on the brink of solving one of the most haunting cold cases in popular history.
Both Baby Lane and Poochie — implicated as the triggermen by the team's sources for the murders of Shakur and Smalls — had been shot dead years ago, casualties of Crips-versus-Bloods battles set off by the celebrities' slayings. However, the rap moguls accused of hiring them were still very much alive.
Kading was certain that by tracking down a couple more Crips allegedly involved in Shakur's murder, and by wiretapping phone conversations between Knight and his lover Swann, the LAPD finally would have enough evidence to solve hip-hop's greatest murder mysteries.
But what Kading says happened next — a series of shocking moves within the LAPD's upper ranks — would lead him to question whether his superiors wanted the rappers' murderers brought to justice.
In July 2009, under former LAPD Chief William Bratton, lead detective Kading was abruptly pulled from the task force. Without his years of nuanced insight into the vast array of characters involved, he says, the investigation began to peter out as he watched helplessly.
Nearly a year later, in April 2010, when Voletta Wallace withdrew her lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, what remained of the task force was quickly dismantled by Robbery-Homicide Capt. Kevin McClure with the blessing of brand-new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Within weeks, despite 22 devoted years on the force, in a move the fiercely independent Detective Harry Bosch might pull in a Michael Connelly novel, Kading turned in his LAPD badge and walked out the door.
Though Kading is well aware of the litigation to which he's exposing himself by implicating Combs and Knight — the wealthy Combs threatened to sue the Los Angeles Times over much less — Kading believes that "the story's bigger than the LAPD," and that if he doesn't share his findings with the public, "nobody's ever going to know what really happened."
The son of an honest-to-goodness 1960s flower child, Kading may have been the most unlikely man imaginable to extract confessions in two seemingly unsolvable celebrity homicide cases.
Kading grew up with his mother and two older sisters in tents and yurts around Lake Tahoe, in what he describes as a movable feast of hippies and potheads, marked by his mother's wanderlust and impulsive parenting. In 1974, at age 11 — one year after Kading was at a party with his mother and accidentally ingested LSD in spiked punch — his mother packed everything into a VW bus and headed south along the California coast toward Mexico. Kading did not know it, but his mother's plan was to drive south of the border to meet a boyfriend who was buying drugs, then smuggle the stash into California under the guise of a vacationing family.
In Laguna Beach, however, his mother learned that her boyfriend had been arrested; she decided Orange County was as good a place to live as any. Staying in a tent, Kading became increasingly desperate for stability. At age 13, he finally found it with the family of his best friend, whose father was a lieutenant with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. By the time Kading graduated from high school, he was calling his friend's father "Dad," and at 18 he signed up with the Sheriff's Department. Two years later, Kading moved north, where he became a rising star at LAPD.
Anaheim Ducks v. Edmonton Oilers
TicketsWed., Jan. 25, 7:00pm
Los Angeles D-Fenders vs. Sioux Falls Skyforce
TicketsThu., Jan. 26, 7:30pm
UCLA Bruins Women's Basketball vs. Arizona State Sundevils Womens Basketball
TicketsFri., Jan. 27, 8:00pm
UCLA Bruins Women's Basketball vs. Arizona Wildcats Womens Basketball
TicketsSun., Jan. 29, 2:00pm
Kading's big break came in 2003, when he was assigned to a task force of federal and local officers investigating George Torres, Numero Uno supermarket magnate and an alleged drug kingpin. Kading's job was to look into several murders possibly connected to Torres. He became indispensable to the prosecution when he turned up two of Torres' associates, convicted criminals Derrick Smith and Raul Del Real, who were in prison and willing to testify. The testimony from the star witnesses helped the U.S. Attorney's Office file a raft of charges against Torres, and hot shot Kading was the toast of the LAPD.
So much so, says Kading, that in July 2006 he was handpicked to lead the Biggie Smalls murder investigation. In the three years he worked that case, he was keeping tabs on Smith and Del Real in preparation for Torres' trial in 2009.
In what seemed like an instant, however, Kading went from the top of the world to the depths of a very public hell. Kading's reputation almost certainly will become an issue upon Murder Rap's publication.
In April 2009, a jury convicted Torres on 50 counts, including conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering and bribery. But it wouldn't last. Two months later, Federal Judge Stephen Wilson issued a shocking ruling, throwing out the verdicts. He cited the prosecution's failure to disclose evidence to the defense, such as phone calls between Kading and Smith and between Kading and Del Real, as well as his police notebooks.
Wilson publicly singled out Kading for making what appeared to be inappropriate promises of leniency and favors to the two witnesses.
Immediately, the media — including L.A. Weekly — painted Kading as a rogue cop. He says his supervisors quietly informed him that he could take any assignment he wanted but was being removed from the Biggie Smalls murder case while a secret Internal Affairs investigation was conducted into his actions in the Numero Uno case.
It now appears that Kading was unfairly blamed by Judge Wilson and the media. LAPD took nearly a year to complete its investigation of Kading. According to that April 14, 2010, Internal Affairs report, reviewed by L.A. Weekly, Kading was not to blame for wrongdoing that caused Judge Wilson to overturn Torres' conviction.
"Although Kading was one of the focal points of the defense's argument, the outrageous misconduct referred to in [Judge Wilson's] motion was related to items of discovery that the government did not provide to the defense," the report states. In other words, LAPD found it was not Kading's behavior but that of the U.S. Attorney's Office that botched the Numero Uno–George Torres case.
During the yearlong internal LAPD probe of his actions, Kading felt betrayed and heartbroken. He had been wrongly accused of the U.S. Attorney's errors, and he had already elicited two confessions that put him on the brink of solving Shakur's and Smalls' murders — yet had been yanked from the case.
According to that Internal Affairs report, Kading's alleged misstatements on a search affidavit in the Numero Uno case were trivial and unrelated to Wilson overturning Torres' conviction. Kading used the word "procedure" for "policy" when quoting someone in the affidavit and he changed an "or" to an "and." LAPD also determined there was "absolutely no evidence" that Kading "intentionally or maliciously misrepresented material facts," and, further, that Kading was "attacked by high-priced attorneys and was left virtually unsupported by the Assistant U.S. Attorney."
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.
Suspiciously, the first man to visit Mack in jail was named "Amir" — the same first name a jailhouse informant gave Poole for Smalls' alleged killer.
In July 2005, Internal Affairs seized all information pertaining to Mack — which, at that point, was directly related to the Smalls investigation — for its own sealed-off, top-secret investigation into the corrupt cop.
Furious, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper concluded that the seizure showed LAPD was scrambling to conceal evidence relating to the Biggie Smalls murder. Cooper declared a mistrial in Voletta Wallace's civil suit against LAPD and fired a stern warning shot at the department, awarding Voletta Wallace more than $1 million in legal fees. Had Los Angeles lost the suit, the city's liability could, by some reckoning, have risen to $500 million, the estimate of Biggie Smalls' lost earnings.
With that crushing figure hanging over the city, almost simultaneously, Voletta Wallace filed a second lawsuit in the summer of 2006, and the order came down under then-Chief Bratton: Find Biggie Smalls' true killer.
Three years later, listening to the confessions fingering Sean Combs and Suge Knight, Kading felt he could almost see the finish line.
Under FBI policy, Swann's interview couldn't be recorded on tape, Kading says. However, Kading and Daryn Dupree, an LAPD gang detective on the team, copied Swann's words in police journals.
Just as investigators had done with Keffe D, they tracked Swann (again, not her real name) until they had gathered enough evidence against her to put her away for other crimes — to motivate her to talk.
But unlike Keffe D, who accused Combs but had no lingering ties to him, Swann was historically loyal to Knight, her child's father. So detectives took a different approach. Like a tense scene from L.A. Law, they prepared a fake confession from Wardell "Poochie" Fouse, a close associate of Suge Knight's, then asked Swann to confirm it — a creative tactic used by LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division.
By the time Kading had Swann in the hot seat, two other sources had pointed to Poochie (Fouse) as Smalls' probable killer. But Swann's reaction meant everything, especially because, in Poochie's staged false confession, Swann herself was named as a conspirator in Smalls' murder.
Seated at the head of a long conference table in the DEA's chilly downtown L.A. offices on May 28, 2009, Swann stared at the false confession "as if [Detective Dupree] had pulled out a rattlesnake and placed it on the table," writes Kading.
Once she had finished reading it, Kading says, Swann whispered, "That's right. What Poochie says, that's what happened."
Swann broke down in tears and gave detectives the story in her own words: Knight, reeling from Shakur's death, ended up giving her $13,000 to pay Poochie for a revenge hit on Smalls, according to LAPD documents reviewed by L.A. Weekly.
"She was just a train wreck," Detective Kading tells the Weekly. He says he kept handing her tissues to sop up the mascara streaming down her face as she begged cops not to tell Suge Knight they had spoken with her.
In Kading's Murder Rap, he paraphrases Swann as explaining why she believes the Death Row honcho ordered the kill: "He was really mad about [Shakur's murder]. Like I never saw him before. He told me where Biggie would be ... you know, that party at the car museum. He told me to tell Poochie to get over there and take care of it, you know what I mean?"
Yet this is when the investigation was inexplicably derailed. Two months after Swann's 2009 confession that she was the paymaster in Biggie Smalls' killing, Kading was taken off the case because Internal Affairs had to probe his role in the Torres prosecution — in which he was ultimately cleared.
Kading recalls in Murder Rap that his direct supervisor, Cmdr. Pat Gannon, called him into his office and told him, "Allegations were made in the Torres case. We know they're baseless, Greg, totally without foundation. But there's a perception out there and we're concerned that it might work against you in the Biggie case. This is for the best. Believe me."
Kading isn't certain what the remaining members of the task force did during the next year, from the time he was sidelined until the team was quietly dismantled by Robbery-Homicide Division boss Kevin McClure, with a nod from Chief Beck, in the spring of 2010.
However, Kading says the cop who replaced him as lead investigator into Combs and Knight was a bizarre choice by LAPD brass. Either Beck or Beck's underlings decided to replace Kading — one of Southern California's top-notch investigators — with a detective lacking a strong background in narcotics or informants, Kading says. Kading feels that the task force, as reconstituted under Beck, jeopardized the cooperation promised to the LAPD by Keffe D — by turning over Keffe D's confession to Las Vegas police. He believes LAPD lost its grip on Swann by ditching Kading's idea to wiretap her conversations with Knight so they could use her as an informant. Gradually, Kading says, all leads dead-ended.
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."
Call it an obsession — a curse, even. Dozens of gang members from both sides died in attempts to avenge Shakur's and Smalls' deaths. Detective Poole traded his job to pursue a labyrinth of failed litigation against LAPD. Former Times reporter Philips spent years struggling to redeem his reputation, and now is co-producing a documentary on Suge Knight that will feature a soundtrack by Knight's latest company, Black Kapital.
For Kading, as soft-spoken and level-headed as hip-hop cops come, finishing what he started — and stepping into a potential legal and media maelstrom — is the right thing to do.
Voletta Wallace once told Rolling Stone that, before she learned of Detective Poole's conspiracy theory, "I trusted the Los Angeles Police Department. I had to believe that they wanted to find out who the murderer of my son was. I had no idea there were such powerful forces involved in all of this."
This seed of skepticism is resown in the pages of Murder Rap. Though Kading spends a chapter attacking Poole's stubborn conviction that Death Row–affiliated LAPD officers helped take out the nation's fastest-rising rap star, and follows many of the same leads as the Times, Kading's core criticism that the LAPD sacrificed justice for self-preservation tends to parallel Poole's.
"It was almost as if, in some surreal way, Russell Poole had been right all along," Kading writes in the final chapter of Murder Rap. "The LAPD was trying to cover up the Biggie Smalls murder, not by protecting corrupt cops but by undercutting the ability of its own investigators to solve the case. ... It was expedient for them to cripple the case in the interests of avoiding a potentially difficult prosecution. That expediency trumped everything, including the pledge to 'Protect and Serve' stenciled on the door of every black-and-white patrol car in the city."
Voletta Wallace's attorney Sanders tells the Weekly that Kading's book does not "meaningfully" refute theories that corrupt LAPD cops were involved, and Sanders does not believe that alleged co-conspirators Swann, Knight and Poochie could have known Smalls was at the Petersen Automotive Museum party on the night he was gunned down. Kading says Sanders is wrong.
But when Kading visited Voletta Wallace in Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago to hand her a copy of his book, he says she thanked him, saying it would prove "very beneficial."
The LAPD retiree is hoping that, despite the lawsuits he will potentially face for accusing Sean Combs and Suge Knight in Murder Rap, the high-profile probe he began — and wanted so desperately to finish — will finally get its day in court.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Los Angeles, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.