LOS ANGELES – Lawyers for the city accused the family of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. of going to "odious" and "absurd" lengths — including lying — to "satisfy their ambition to extract hundreds of millions of dollars" from the city, according to papers filed in federal court.
The city filed the papers Tuesday in response to the family's allegations that the city had withheld documents and covered up police misconduct while defending a wrongful death lawsuit.
The family's attorneys were responding to remarks from U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper that she believed a lawyer for the rapper's family had "absolutely deceived" the court in claiming the plaintiffs had received an 11th-hour tip regarding alleged city misconduct.
The rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed March 9, 1997, after a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The murder has not been solved. Wallace's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, which went to trial last summer.
The trial, however, stopped abruptly when the plaintiffs' attorneys said they had received an anonymous tip from a former officer who said a police informant had tied two former officers, Rafael Perez and David Mack, to the killing. Cooper declared a mistrial after finding that a police detective intentionally hid the informant's statements and ordered the city to pay $1.1 million in legal fees and other expenses to the rapper's family.
A city attorney told Cooper last month that the family lawyers lied during the trial when they said city attorneys had withheld documents of interviews of the informant by LAPD investigators. A private investigator for the city's defense attorneys reported that the plaintiffs had known about the informant's remarks as early as 2002.
Family attorney Perry Sanders said that after telling the court he knew nothing about the informant, he realized that his defense team had been "previously contacted" by the informant. He denied deliberately misleading the court, saying he had given the relevant information about the informant's report to attorneys for the city in 2002, and again last summer.
Dorothy Wolpert, a lawyer hired by the city, suggested that Wallace's family introduced the claim of an anonymous tip because perhaps "plaintiffs were not happy with the way the trial was developing." She asked Cooper to allow a new trial to begin "as soon as its calendar will allow."