Las Vegas prosecutors announced on Friday that they had indicted a self-described gang member who has repeatedly stated that he participated in the drive-by shooting of Tupac Shakur. This revives a blockbuster investigation that had stalled for more than 25 years.
After the prizefight between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas in 1996, a guy named Duane Keith Davis claimed in interviews and a biography that he was the front-seat passenger in the white Cadillac that came up next to the car transporting Mr. Shakur. After being shot four times, the 25-year-old rapper passed away in the hospital a week later.
A prosecutor said in court on Friday that Mr. Davis had been charged by a grand jury in Clark County on one count of murder with use of a dangerous weapon, with a gang enhancement. The Associated Press previously reported that Mr. Davis had been arrested and is currently being held without bond.
One of the most successful musicians of the ’90s, Mr. Shakur’s shooting has been the subject of much conjecture, proof, and reporting over the course of almost three decades. His music introduced a lyrical gravity to aggressive gangster rap. In July, though, the Las Vegas police executed a search warrant at a Henderson, Nevada, property linked to Mr. Davis, reigniting interest in the case.
Friday in court, Clark County’s top deputy district attorney Marc DiGiacomo said that Mr. Davis was the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Mr. Shakur and the attempted murder of Marion Knight, the rap entrepreneur known as Suge, who was driving the car containing the rapper.
It was unclear right away if Mr. Davis had legal representation. After the boxing bout at the MGM Grand hotel, Mr. Davis’s nephew, Orlando Anderson, was attacked by Mr. Shakur and his companions, sparking a gang dispute, as detailed by Mr. Davis (now known as Keffe D) in his 2019 biography.
“Them jumping on my nephew gave us the ultimate green light to do something,” Mr. Davis said in the memoir, “Compton Street Legend.” “Tupac chose the wrong game to play.”
A copy of the indictment filed in Clark County District Court states that Mr. Davis was accused of obtaining a firearm “for the purpose of seeking retribution against” Mr. Shakur and Mr. Knight and then transferring possession of the weapon to his nephew or another passenger in the Cadillac with “the intent that this crime be committed.” Mr. Davis is the sole passenger still breathing in the automobile.
In court, Mr. DiGiacomo admitted that police had known the broad strokes of what had happened that night since 1996. The prosecution stated, “What was lacking was admissible evidence to establish this chain of events,” referencing Mr. Davis’s subsequent public description of his participation.
As the book states, “He admitted within that book that he did acquire the firearm with the intent to go hunt down Mr. Shakur and Mr. Knight.” Las Vegas police said at a press conference on Friday that Mr. Davis’s own statements gave fresh life to their investigation beginning with a televised appearance he made in 2018.
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“We knew at that time that this was likely our last time to take a run at this case,” Lt. Jason Johansson of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said. In previous interviews, Mr. Davis has avoided identifying the shooter by name. But in a taped confession leaked by a former LAPD investigator who looked into Mr. Shakur’s murder, Mr. Davis implicated his nephew, Mr. Anderson, aka Baby Lane.
After being questioned by police about the killing of Tupac Shakur, Mr. Anderson was shot and died in 1998. Mr. Davis, also known as Keefe D, wrote in his autobiography that after the shooting, the guys left the car and walked back to the hotel, then picked up the car the next day and drove it back to California.
Mr. Davis said it was returned to the rental agency after being cleaned and repainted. It was “too late for any forensics to be accurate and reliable,” he said. There was a frenzy of activity in the inquiry after Mr. Shakur’s death. The police have detained over 20 persons in connection with a string of shootings they believe were carried out by a same or similar gang.
Conspiracy theories and complaints that the authorities had not tried hard enough to bring his assassins to justice flourished as the years passed without any charges being brought in connection with Shakur’s death or the death of the Notorious B.I.G., his buddy turned competitor, six months later.
The Las Vegas police have stated that the inquiry has stagnated due to a lack of cooperation from Mr. Shakur’s loved ones. Books, podcasts, TV shows, and movies have all been made about the murders, adding to Mr. Shakur’s mythological status in the hip-hop community.
His albums like “Me Against the World,” in which he rapped about a life threatened by violence, and “All Eyez on Me,” one of the genre’s first double albums, helped make him a household name. The Los Angeles Police Department reopened the investigation into the death of the Notorious B.I.G. in the mid-2000s, which finally led to a reevaluation of the Shakur homicide.
Greg Kading, one of the detectives who worked the case, released a book in which he described how investigators got Mr. Davis to collaborate with them by promising not to press charges against him based on whatever he said during interviews because of a proffer agreement. “I sang because they promised I would not be prosecuted,” Mr. Davis wrote in his memoir.
In the BMW driven by Mr. Knight on the night of the shooting, Mr. Shakur was on his way to an after-fight party at Club 662, a new venue supported by their record label, Death Row Records.
Mr. Davis, a self-described member of the Crips, claimed in his biography that he, Mr. Anderson, and others had waited in the nightclub parking lot with weapons ready in an attempt to confront Mr. Shakur and Mr. Knight, who were linked with the Bloods, about the previous violence.
Mr. Davis said that the group waiting for the rapper eventually headed for their hotel, only to run across Mr. Shakur and Mr. Knight chatting with fans at a stoplight. “As they sat in traffic, we slowly rolled past the long line of luxury cars they had in their caravan, looking into each car until we pulled up to the front vehicle and found who we were seeking,” Mr. Davis wrote.
According to Mr. Davis, Mr. Shakur’s gang showed “the ultimate disrespect” when they “kicked and beat down my nephew” in what is believed to be retaliation for the robbery of one of Mr. Shakur’s pals. Davis, in his autobiography, spoke of the “strict code” of the streets, which people “live, kill, and die by.”
“Tupac’s and Biggie’s deaths were direct results of that code violation and the explosive consequences when the powerful worlds of the streets, entertainment and crooked-ass law enforcement collide,” he wrote.nMr. Davis said that writing about his experiences as a “prime suspect” in both murders for his book was “therapeutic.”
Mr. Davis was asked if he was worried that his disclosures may lead to a conviction during an interview he gave this year to a rap historian known as DJ Vlad.
Mr. Davis, who spent around 15 years in jail on federal narcotics charges, said he is not afraid of returning there. “They want to put me in jail for life?” he said. “That’s just something I got to do.”
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