LOS ANGELES — FBI agents on both coasts participated in a nearly two-year investigation aimed at finding out who gunned down the Notorious B.I.G. and whether any Los Angeles police officers were involved, according to recently released records.
The inquiry ended in early 2005, after federal prosecutors concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue a case against any officers or another man implicated in the rapper’s 1997 shooting death.
The decision was made after agents in Los Angeles, San Diego and New York tried to track down potential suspects and witnesses who might shed new light on the unsolved killing that came months after another rap superstar, Tupac Shakur, was shot dead in Las Vegas.
The investigation started out as a civil rights violation and public corruption review, but efforts were made to solve the homicide case. The FBI’s file included police reports.
Informants told the FBI that the killing of B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, may have been aided by corrupt police officers. The heavily redacted files include several mentions of sources who wouldn’t talk to Los Angeles police investigators about Wallace’s death because of suspicions about corruption.
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The records showed that agents conducted surveillance on one man in San Diego who they thought may have fired the fatal shots at Wallace, and even went through his mail and garbage. They also showed an agent consulted frequently with a civil attorney who was pursuing a wrongful death on behalf of Wallace’s estate against the city of Los Angeles.
No one has been arrested for Wallace or Shakur’s killings, although both deaths have been the subject of rampant speculation about the motives. The one-time friends became rivals and instigators in an East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry during the mid-1990s.
Wallace was fatally shot with a 9mm gun on Wilshire Boulevard in March 1997 after leaving a Los Angeles music industry event.
The FBI released Wallace’s file on March 27 on its website, The Vault, which contains the bureau’s most requested case documents that can be released. The FBI on Friday publicized that it had added more than 25 new files that it had never released electronically and by Wednesday, fans and journalists were poring over the Wallace file.
Wallace’s family dismissed a federal lawsuit against Los Angeles last year, which their attorney said was done in order for the FBI and other agencies to pursue new leads in the case. A 2005 trial ended with a mistrial after attorneys for Wallace’s family discovered the city had withheld a trove of LAPD documents.