Here are the facts: During the wee hours of March 9th, 2007 1997, hip hop superstar Biggie Smalls (born Christopher Wallace) died of four gunshot wounds to the chest. His death may have been statistically unremarkable to some -- after all, thousands of gun-related deaths occur in the US each year, and according to the Washington-based Violence Policy Center guns killed an average of 89 people per day in 1997. However, it was a profound blow to hip hop fans across the world, and it wasn't long before the conspiracy theories began to spread. Music fans and conspiracy theorists alike began to believe that Biggie was assassinated by members of the Los Angeles Police Department, possibly in collaboration with Death Row label owner Marion "Suge" Knight.
In the years since Biggie's murder the investigation has closed and re-opened, and some findings in the case remain controversial. Numerous journalists investigated the claims and the events leading up to Biggie's death, including Anderson Cooper. But we can't talk about this conspiracy without mentioning ex-LAPD officer and whistleblower Russell Poole, who alleged that Biggie was murdered by LAPD officer David Mack. Poole also claimed he was eventually ordered to stop his investigation.
Despite lingering questions over the behavior of the LAPD, the alleged involvement of Marion Knight and the identity of the gunman, this conspiracy theory slipped off the mainstream radar -- at least, that it, until last week, when the F.B.I. released hundreds of pages' worth of documents concerning the death of Biggie Smalls. The LAPD is reportedly working with the F.B.I. the local district attorney to investigate new leads in the case. (I owe a big thanks to FanStuff blogger and Finance editor Chanel Lee for the link.)
This release brings up two important notes. First, it emphasizes the seriousness of the Freedom of Information Act. The F.B.I. would not have released these documents without repeated requests under the F.O.I.A.
Second, it raises more questions about the murder. Was Biggie Smalls only the victim of a drive-by shooting, or has he also become the posthumous victim of a cover-up? And, if so, why?
Let us know what you think.