It’s a question people have been asking for nearly two decades: Who killed legendary rapper Tupac Shakur?
It is one of the most notorious homicides in Las Vegas history, and despite dozens of witnesses and multiple investigations, it’s never been solved.
Two former Los Angeles Police Department detectives have come forward, claiming they know who pulled the trigger.
FOX5 set out to speak to as many people about the case as possible. Many of the people connected to the case, including key witnesses and Los Angeles County police officers who were there, are now dead.
We did, however, speak to one of Shakur’s former bodyguards. He told us we wouldn’t believe the level of corruption inside Death Row Records.
As with any murder investigation, we had to rely on information provided by police. In this case we heard from two lead investigators.
On Sept. 7, 1996, Shakur, along with associates from Death Row Records, was leaving a Mike Tyson fight at the MGM Grand. They ran into Orlando Anderson, a member of Los Angeles’ South Side Crips.
Surveillance video from the MGM shows Shakur and Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight stomping Anderson.
Just after 11 p.m., Shakur, Knight and their entourage were headed to a club. When they stopped at the intersection of Koval Lane and Flamingo Road, a white Cadillac was driven up alongside their BMW. Someone inside the Cadillac opened fire.
Shakur, who was in the passenger seat, was struck multiple times.
Chris Caroll, a retired Las Vegas Metro police officer, was the first on the scene at Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue, where Knight crashed the BMW.
“He falls into my arms. I tried to get a dying declaration from him. I’m asking, ‘Who shot you?’ I could see him getting his breath together. I thought he was going to get a name, and he looked at me and said, ‘[expletive] you,’” Caroll said.
Shakur, 25, died five days later at University Medical Center.
Six months later, East Coast rapper Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., or Biggie Smalls, was gunned down while leaving a party in Los Angeles. LAPD Det. Russell Poole was assigned the case. He found the murders of Shakur and Wallace were connected.
“Russell Poole was investigating this crime, and it kept leading to off-duty police officers. He kept being told by management, ‘Stop your investigating,’” said author Michael Carlin, who helped Poole publish multiple books concerning his findings.
Poole was eventually removed from the case. He quit the force and sued the department. Carlin said he never stopped working on the cases.
“Dave Demerjian is the senior assistant district attorney at the DA’s office. We started having these meetings, and Dave was like, ‘I’m not interested. I’m not feeling this case.’ So we doubled our efforts. We came up with 45 Tupac murder facts. We handed that to him and he said, ‘You know, I am very interested in this case now,’” Carlin said.
“A man takes two million heartbeats, and the last 2,000 are in a meeting with the sheriffs, talking about sheriff corruption. And he passes away in the meeting. I mean, it defies logic,” Carlin continued.
Carlin said Poole had uncovered evidence that people inside Death Row Records had planned to kill Knight in order to seize control of the label.
Shakur was a target as well because, according to Poole, he was planning to leave the label, taking hundreds of unreleased songs with him.
FBI documents and former LAPD officers confirmed Death Row Records employed multiple officers, who worked security.
“The motive is Death Row Records. Death Row Records was worth $500 million,” Carlin said. “The reality is cops were involved in the murder of Tupac.”
FOX5 attempted to contact the former Compton police officer who took over Death Row Records following the murders. He did not respond.
Many people disagree with Carlin and Poole’s theory of events, including Greg Kading. Kading worked for the LAPD for 25 years. After Wallace’s family sued the City of Los Angeles for $400 million, Kading was tasked with solving his murder.
Kading discovered the murders of Shakur and Wallace were connected as well.
“There was an ongoing conflict between Suge Knight and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, and at the CEO level there was some real hostility. Knight held Combs responsible for the murder of his friend in Atlanta,” Kading said.
Kading’s explanation is simple. He said Death Row Records was notorious for its association with the Bloods street gang. Bad Boy Records, which represented Wallace, had aligned with another gang, the Crips.
“The gangs that were affiliated with these two labels were Crips and Bloods, who were already mortal enemies,” Kading said.
The night of the murder, Shakur had already assaulted Anderson, a member of the Crips. Anderson’s uncle told Kading that Bad Boy Records had offered him a million dollars to take Knight out. After his nephew was assaulted, he decided to act.
“You cannot go to court against ‘Puffy’ Combs with a convicted drug-dealing gang member as your star witness,” Kading said.
FOX5 reached out to Epic Records, which now controls Bad Boy Records and serves as home to Combs. The label did not respond to a request for comment.
Both Kading and Carlin have confession statements from people who claim to have been involved. Both have tried to further the investigation conducted by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
“Let’s just tell Las Vegas what we know about their case and let them deal with it so they can have the Tupac information,” Kading said.
“These are two high-profile cases. If those high-profile cases don’t get solved, what chance do we have as humans and Americans to get justice in this country?” Carlin asked.
Less than five minutes before Shakur was shot, two Las Vegas officers pulled Knight’s BMW over. FOX5 has not determined who those officers were.
Shakur had two bodyguards on duty the night he was shot. Both of them are now dead.
Shakur’s close friend, Yafeu Akiyele Fula, known by stage name Yaki Kadafi, claimed to know who shot Shakur. He was shot and killed before investigators could interview him.
Multiple informants told investigators the white Cadillac the shooters used was rented. However, police never tracked the vehicle down.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment for this story as the investigation into Shakur’s death is ongoing.
Kading was taken off the investigation when an internal review found he altered witness statements.
FOX5 also spoke to Shakur’s cousin in preparation for this story. He originally agreed to contribute but later declined, saying his family convinced him not to.