LOS ANGELES – The family of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G (search) tried Thursday to paint a dark conspiracy theory of his death by linking corrupt police officers to gang members in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the LAPD.
A witness for the plaintiffs, LAPD Detective Wayne Caffey, said he once saw a photograph showing disgraced officers Rafael Perez and David Mack together.
The family of Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace (search), alleges that Mack helped arrange the rapper's killing.
Caffey said he saw the photo at a police station following raids on the homes of gang members in suburban Compton shortly after the 1996 killing of rapper Tupac Shakur (search) in Las Vegas.
"I don't know where the picture came from. I assume it was from the search warrant," Caffey said, adding that he notified homicide investigators.
Jerry Sanders, an attorney for the family of Notorious B.I.G., suggested nothing was done with the information. He also suggested that it was unusual for Perez and Mack to pose together and for such a photograph to be found in a raid.
There was no description, however, of what event the photograph depicted and, except for Caffey's testimony, there was no confirmation that it actually existed. Sanders did not produce the photo for the jurors.
Mack, who is serving a 14-year term for bank robbery, has denied any involvement in the killing.
Perez was at the center of a police corruption scandal involving anti-gang officers who allegedly framed suspects in the Rampart Division near downtown. He never was implicated in the Wallace killing.
Wallace, 24, was gunned down outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on March 9, 1997, after a music industry party. His death came six months after Shakur's. Both cases are officially unsolved.
Wallace's family contends that Mack helped arrange Wallace's killing at the behest of Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight (search) as retaliation for the killing of Shakur, a Death Row star.
Knight is not named as a defendant in the Wallace suit. A lawyer who has represented him, Milton Grimes, did not return a call seeking comment.
According to the theory underlying the suit, Mack arranged to have a college roommate driving Mack's car shoot B.I.G.
The suit alleges that the Police Department covered up Mack's alleged involvement.
Both Mack and the alleged shooter, Amir Muhammad, have been dropped from the family's suit and have never been named as criminal suspects.