Witness to the drive-by shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur charged with murder
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Las Vegas: One of the last living witnesses to the fatal drive-by shooting of American rapper Tupac Shakur was on Friday charged with murder in the 1996 killing, a long-awaited breakthrough in a case that has frustrated investigators and fascinated the public.
A Nevada grand jury indicted Duane “Keffe D” Davis on one count of murder with a deadly weapon, Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo announced in court.
Tupac Shakur, who was gunned down in Las Vegas in September 1996.Credit: AP
Davis has long been known to investigators and has himself admitted in interviews and in his 2019 tell-all memoir, Compton Street Legend, that he was in the Cadillac from which the gunfire erupted during the September 1996 drive-by shooting.
DiGiacomo described Davis as the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur, who was 25. Homicide Lieutenant Jason Johansson called Davis the “leader and shot caller.”
“For 27 years the family of Tupac Shakur has been waiting for justice,” Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference on Friday.
“While I know there’s been many people who did not believe that the murder of Tupac Shakur was important to this police department, I’m here to tell you that is simply not the case.”
Tupac Shakur was travelling in this black BMW when it was riddled with bullets.Credit: AP
After Davis’ 2018 interview, Johansson said the police department “knew this was likely our last time to take a run at this case to successfully solve this case and bring forth a criminal charge.”
The charges were revealed hours after Davis, 60, was arrested while on a walk near his home in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, according to DiGiacomo.
In mid-July, Las Vegas police raided Davis’ home. They were looking for items related to the murder, according to the search warrant. They collected computers, a mobile phone and a hard drive, a Vibe magazine that featured Shakur, several .40-calibre bullets, two containers of photographs and a copy of Davis’ memoir.
Police raided a home in Henderson, Nevada in July in search of evidence. Credit: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP
“It has often been said that justice delayed is justice denied,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said after the hearing.
“In this case, justice has been delayed, but justice won’t be denied.”
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for several months. On Friday, Clark County District Judge Jerry Wiese denied Davis bail.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur was in a BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars. They were waiting at a red light near the Las Vegas Strip when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and gunfire erupted. Shakur was shot multiple times and died a week later.
The rapper’s death came as his fourth solo album, All Eyez on Me, remained on the charts, with some five million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is still largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.
In his memoir, Davis said he was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac and had slipped the gun used in the killing into the back, from where he said the shots were fired.
Davis implicated his nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, saying he was one of two people in the back. Anderson, a known rival of Shakur, had been involved in a casino brawl with the rapper shortly before the shooting. Anderson denied any involvement in Shakur’s death. He died two years later.
After the casino brawl, “Mr.Davis formulated a plan to exact revenge upon Mr Knight and Mr Shakur” in his nephew’s defence, DiGiacomo said.
Knight was grazed by a bullet fragment in the shooting but had only minor injuries. He is serving a 28-year prison sentence in California for an unrelated voluntary manslaughter charge.
In his memoir, Davis revealed that he first broke his silence in 2010 during a closed-door meeting with federal and local authorities. At the time, he was 46 and facing life in prison on drug charges. He agreed to speak with them about Tupac’s killing, as well as the fatal shooting six months later of Tupac’s rap rival, Biggie Smalls, also known as the Notorious B.I.G.
“They offered to let me go for running a ‘criminal enterprise’ and numerous alleged murders for the truth about the Tupac and Biggie murders,” he wrote. “They promised they would shred the indictment and stop the grand jury if I helped them out.”
Shakur was feuding at the time with rap rival Biggie Smalls, who was fatally shot in March 1997. At the time, both rappers were in the middle of an East Coast-West Coast rivalry that primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s.
Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent years investigating the Shakur killing and wrote a book about it, said he wasn’t surprised by Davis’ arrest.
The former Los Angeles police detective said he believed the investigation gained new momentum following Davis’ public descriptions of his role in the killing, including his 2019 memoir.
“It’s those events that have given Las Vegas the ammunition and the leverage to move forward,” Kading said. “Prior to Keffe D’s public declarations, the cases were unprosecutable as they stood.”
“All the other direct conspirators or participants are dead. Keffe D is the last man standing among the individuals that conspired to kill Tupac.”
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