Judge: Notorious B.I.G. Lawsuit May Include New Defendants

A wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. against the city of Los Angeles may be amended to include several other defendants, including record executive Marion "Suge" Knight, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled Friday the lawsuit may be amended because of newly discovered evidence. Aside from Knight, former police officer Rafael Perez and other current and former members of the Los Angeles Police Department may also be included as defendants.

B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was 24 when he was gunned down March 9, 1997, while leaving a music industry party at Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum.

The New York rapper was one of the country's most popular hip-hop artists, and theories have proliferated for years about who was behind the killing.

Wallace's family filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages from the city. It accuses the Los Angeles Police Department, and specifically Perez' former patrol partner, David Mack, of responsibility for Wallace's death.

Mack and Perez both have long denied involvement in the killing.

Thomas Reichert, an attorney for the city, said the new evidence was "old wine, new bottles."

The family alleges that Knight and Reggie Wright, Jr., a former LAPD officer, conspired with Perez and Mack, who is serving 14 years in a federal prison for bank robbery, to carry out the killing.

Calls to Knight attorneys Laurence Strick and Daniel J. McCarthy were not immediately returned Monday. It was not immediately known who was Wright's attorney.

New evidence shows Perez was on duty the night of B.I.G.'s slaying and may have been at the scene, Cooper wrote. She also found that new evidence after a 2005 mistrial showed that Knight and Wright should be allowed into the suit.

The evidence also supports the addition of three LAPD detectives, whom the family accuses of failing to prevent the killing or of concealing evidence, Cooper wrote.