Tupac and Biggie murders: what my new film taught me about rap’s biggest unsolved mystery

‘Last Man Standing’ is the captivating new documentary from award-winning filmmaker Nick Broomfield, which takes a closer look at the murders of Tupac ‘2Pac’ Shakur and Christopher ‘The Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace. In addition to presenting new evidence relating to the rappers’ deaths, the follow-up to the acclaimed 2002 documentary ‘Biggie & Tupac’ also investigates the claims of LAPD involvement, together with allegations about the involvement of former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. Here, in his own words, Broomfield explains why he wanted to revisit the murders and accuses the police of a cover-up

Nick Broomfield: “After finishing my film Biggie & Tupac in 2002, I became increasingly troubled by the treatment of LAPD detective Russell Poole by his fellow officers. He had come up with evidence, including witness testimonies and other documents, that indicated the LAPD were involved in the hit on Biggie. I watched his health fade as he was vilified. He turned to tranquillisers, he was drinking too much, and his marriage was on the rocks. It was all because he stubbornly held on to his belief that the LAPD were involved in Biggie’s murder based on the testimonies and documents he discovered. He tragically died in 2015 arguing his case at the LA County Sheriff’s Department after he suffered a massive heart attack.

Then subsequent films came out which completely trashed Russell and came up with a whole new theory about who was behind Biggie’s death. According to the theory, Wardell “Poochie” Fouse, who was a Mob Piru Blood and a member of Death Row Records’ security team, was responsible. It was bullshit, and I got pissed off. So I felt another film was due. Maybe it could help bring the truth to light and expose the cover-up.

I knew what I was doing was important because my original Biggie & Tupac film helped launch an FBI investigation into the murders. I’d never have thought that a little filmmaker like me could have that kind of influence. That investigation brought up a lot of new evidence, such as police losing testimonies, and evidence pinpointing former LAPD officers David Mack and Rafael Pérez*, who were spending off-duty hours working security for Death Row, at the Biggie murder scene on Fairfax Ave and Wilshire Blvd. I think there’s been a lot of corroborating evidence surrounding those two in particular, and it’s ridiculous for the LAPD to say they weren’t employed at all by Death Row.

Former Death Row CEO and Bloods gang member Suge Knight was sentenced to 28 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter three years ago, when he ran over Terry Carter outside a Compton burger stand in 2015. Since then, more people have come forward to talk about the murders of Biggie and Tupac, including Xavier Hermosillo, who worked for the LAPD on their fair rights hearing for 30 years. He told me he saw a picture of LAPD chief Bernard Parks’ daughter** with Pérez and Mack and that they were dressed in Blood gang colours. I think that’s massive coming from such a credible source. Xavier says he knew other things related to the murder too but that he was frightened about what might happen to him and his family if he shared anything else.

I really wanted to speak to some of the FBI people involved in the follow-up investigation, especially former agent Phil Carson, who said he believed Russell’s theory on the Biggie murder, but unfortunately his story is being bought by another filmmaker so we had to make do with audio recordings. We also tried to reach out to Suge in prison. Pam Brooks, who I worked with on the film, is an incredibly resourceful person. She found out who it was that he was sharing a cell with. But understandably, Suge’s a bit reserved at this point.

Suge Knight and 2Pac
Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur. CREDIT: Press/Last Man Standing

I don’t believe that Suge was behind the killing of Tupac. Russell’s original theory was that Suge had him killed because he was going to leave Death Row but I just can’t see that being the truth. Would you really sit in a car that was going to have 15 bullets shot into it? I do, however, think Suge was behind the killing of Biggie, even though he’s always denied it. I think he was responsible for ordering the hit, getting the guys to do it in a really well-organised methodical way, and I believe Amir Muhammad*** was the hitman.

We’re at a point now where the Biggie murder should get solved. I think there’s overwhelming evidence to help the case progress. And I think in the present political climate where police forces have time and time again shown themselves to be corrupt and more interested in preserving their own reputation than in seeing that justice is done, it’s the perfect time for something to happen with these investigations, particularly the Biggie murder. It would show that the police force has in fact been reformed.

The fact that there’s still huge interest in these cases 25 years on is no surprise to me. Biggie and Tupac are symbolic figures. They mean just as much now as they did when they were alive. I think the world, as well as the families of Biggie and Tupac, finally deserve answers.”

‘Last Man Standing’ receives its world premiere with a Q&A with Nick Broomfield for one night only on June 30. It will be released worldwide on July 2. You can book tickets here

As told to Will Lavin

*David Mack and Rafael Pérez have denied any involvement in the death of The Notorious B.I.G.

**Bernard Parks and his daughter have denied any involvement in the death of The Notorious B.I.G. His daughter has said that she does not know Rafael Pérez or David Mack.

***Muhammad was briefly considered a suspect in Biggie’s murder but the charges were quickly dropped. Former FBI agent Phil Carson has previously claimed there is evidence pointing to Muhammad as being the shooter.

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