A wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles over the fatal shooting of Notorious B.I.G. has been dismissed, although it is likely to not be the last legal word in the rapper’s death, the Associated Press reported. The suit alleges the Los Angeles Police Department was involved in the killing of the rapper.
According to Bradley C. Gage, an attorney for the rapper’s estate, the dismissal of the suit could allow investigators to make arrests in B.I.G.’s 1997 death. The case was dismissed April 5 after the city and attorneys for the estate agreed it could be refiled at a later date.
B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was at a high point in his career when he was gunned down in March 1997 following a party at a Los Angeles museum.
According to City attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan, a police investigation into Wallace’s murder is ongoing.
The suit was first filed in 2002. In 2005, a federal judge declared a mistrial after Wallace’s attorneys discovered the City concealed a trove of LAPD documents. A judge ordered the City to pay over $1 million in sanctions.
Gage says he still doesn’t have access to some records due to ongoing investigations.
The case’s dismissal gives authorities time to investigate the killing without having to worry whether their agency will be found liable at a trial, Gage said. While he declined to tell the AP who he believed was involved in Wallace’s death, he said he had some pretty strong suspicions. “I believe our civil lawsuit was going on the right path,” Gage told the AP.
The suit alleged that former LAPD officers and Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight were involved in Wallace’s death. The former officers were also involved in Los Angeles’ Rampart division scandal, which exposed police corruption.
Wallace’s mother, Voletta, and widow, R&B singer Faith Evans, originally brought the lawsuit. Gage said for the family, the case isn’t about winning money, but finding the truth. “I think that the family is interested in justice,” Gage told the AP. “They want to find the killer or killers and have those people put behind bars. That can help them put this tragic situation behind them.”
At the time of Wallace’s death he was immensely popular. Gage said he was likely to earn hundreds of millions of dollars over his lifetime, money that could be recouped in a wrongful death suit.
“I think that this in an important case,” Gage told the AP. “It’s important because it can help protect society. It’s important to show areas where the police department would seem to have failed some of its obligations to its citizens.”