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Notorious B.I.G. heirs sue LAPD, officials, city

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Heirs of the late rap star Notorious B.I.G. have filed a wrongful death and federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks, two former chiefs and the city of Los Angeles, claiming they did not do enough to prevent the rapper's death five years ago in a drive-by shooting.

The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, also names a former LAPD officer and a private citizen, linking them to the killing.

Notorious B.I.G., 24, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was killed March 9, 1997, in Los Angeles as he was leaving a music industry party. No one has ever been arrested for the crime.

The suit alleges that, prior to the killing, the LAPD "knew or reasonably should have known" that an atmosphere of violence and "alleged criminality" surrounded a rival record label, Death Row Records, and that street gangs were associated with the company and its employees. The LAPD also should have known its officers were working with suspected or convicted criminals for Death Row and had dealings with a certain street gang.

"Certain persons intimately associated with Death Row Records and an affiliated street gang had consistently exhibited significant animosity toward Christopher G. L. Wallace and his record label," the suit says, "and blamed Christopher G. L. Wallace and his record label for the death of Tupac Shakur, a popular Death Row Recording Artist killed in September 1996."

Shakur was part of the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry, which continued after his death and was believed to have played a part in Wallace's death six months later. The two men -- Shakur with the West Coast label and Wallace associated with New York-based Bad Boy Records -- had argued publicly.

The Wallace heirs include Wallace's mother, Voletta Wallace, his widow, singer Faith Evans, two of Wallace's children and the legal guardian of one of the Wallace children.

Named in the suit are former LAPD chiefs Willie Williams, who retired in May 1997, and his successor Bayan Lewis, who served until August 1997. Parks has served as chief since then.

"Defendant Parks intentionally, willfully and recklessly delayed and stopped the investigation," the suit says, "as soon as it became apparent officers employed by the Los Angeles Police Department were involved in the murder."

This delay, it says, was intended to protect the LAPD, the city, and the other defendants.

The suit also says former police officer David Mack acted with a man named Amir Muhammad in "conspiring to murder" Wallace.

One attorney representing the Wallace family charged the LAPD with "deliberate indifference to Wallace's death" and the ensuing investigation, and the suit calls the department's actions "reckless and conscience shocking."

LAPD spokesman Jason Lee said the department does not comment on ongoing litigation as a matter of policy.




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