Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight financed the hit on Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G. — an execution carried out by Nation of Islam convert and hired hitman Amir Muhammad with the help of corrupt Los Angeles cops, according to an FBI agent who worked the case and sources who have seen sealed court documents.
“All the evidence points to Amir Muhammad. He’s the one who pulled the trigger,” retired FBI agent Phil Carson, who worked the case for two years, claimed to The Post. “There were plenty of others who helped orchestrate it [and] allowed him to pull the trigger.”
The alleged cover-up “was the biggest miscarriage of justice in my 20-year career at the FBI,” said Carson. “I had evidence that LAPD officers were involved and I was shut down by the LAPD and city attorneys inside Los Angeles.”
Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls) was 24 when he was sensationally gunned down on a Los Angeles street in the early morning of March 9, 1997.
The events that followed his murder have frustrated fans, observers and the Wallace family for nearly a quarter century, swirling with accusations of an official and widespread cover-up.
But Carson and film producer Don Sikorski, whose movie “City of Lies” chronicles the murder, its probe and the aftermath, told The Post the murder itself is no mystery.
“All the answers are in black and white,” Sikorski said, claiming that he and “City of Lies” director Brad Furman are among the few people who have read the sealed court files behind the unsolved murder.
A 2003 FBI report obtained by The Post that outlines the case for prosecutors supports the claim Carson and the filmmakers make today.
“Amir Muhammad, AKA Harry Billups, the godparent to LAPD Officer David Mack’s two children, has been identified by several sources as the trigger man,” reads the formal FBI request, penned by Carson, that the investigation be given a Los Angeles case file number. “Mack is a registered owner of a 1995 Black SS Impala with chrome wheels, the exact description given as being driven by Wallace’s shooter.”
The original target was not Biggie, said Carson, but Sean “Puffy” Combs, who was in the vehicle ahead of Biggie’s SUV on the night of the murder. Carson said he shared this information with Combs and that the record label exec was “pretty freaked out” to learn that he was the intended hit.
Sikorski and his production team now demand that law-enforcement officials in California renew the investigation and solve what the filmmaker calls “the JFK assassination of the rap world.” They’re joined in their effort by Carson.
The civil case filed against the LAPD by the Wallace family in 2002 contains much of the evidence about the murder but remains sealed under order of a federal judge.
The criminal investigation into the murder officially remains open, according to the LAPD. But, say Sikorski and Carson, there has been little to no activity on the case for years.
Biggie was born in Brooklyn in 1972 and, as a teenager, descended into a life of crime, including arrests for gun possession and dealing crack.
But his rap skills were legend on the streets. The Source magazine profiled Biggie in a 1992 feature about unsigned talent. Upstart entertainment executive Combs read the article and met Biggie for the first time at Sylvia’s, the soul-food landmark in Harlem.
His meteoric rise to fame began in 1993 when he signed with Combs’ Bad Boy Records.
Biggie’s first album, “Ready to Die,” was released a year later and spawned a series of hits, including “Juicy” – an iconic hip-hop track that now boasts more than 388 million YouTube views even though the song hit the airwaves well over a decade before the video platform existed. The album has sold more than 6 million copies. His second and final album, “Life After Death,” has sold more than 11 million.
He remains larger than life, nearly a quarter century after his murder. Rolling Stone and Billboard both named him the greatest rapper of all time while New York City street vendors still hawk T-shirts bearing his likeness.
One person who did not appreciate Biggie was West Coast music mogul Knight.
Biggie’s lightning-fast ascendancy had helped fuel the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry of the 1990s, pitting Knight’s LA-based Death Row Records against Combs’ NYC-centered Bad Boy label, which had Smalls under contract.
The animosity turned to bloodshed in September 1996, when Death Row superstar Tupac Shakur was shot dead after attending a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. Shakur’s murder, like Biggie’s, remains unsolved.
Six months later, Biggie left a party following the Soul Train music awards in LA. He sat in the back of a black GMC Suburban, the second vehicle of a three-car entourage, when his vehicle stopped at a red light at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
Witnesses told police a dark Chevy Impala pulled up next to Biggie’s car and that the shooter, wearing a blue suit and bow tie, blasted several rounds into the vehicle. Biggie was hit four times, the final shot piercing several vital organs, and pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Carson told The Post that the driver of Biggie’s car, Greg “G Money” Young, had little security experience. He should have kept driving through the red light, especially at that hour of the morning, to protect the passengers from a potential drive-by attack. Biggie and the rest of the East Coast entourage went to Los Angeles that week already harboring concerns about a potential Tupac revenge hit.
“Biggie became a stationary target,” said Carson.
Muhammad, a friend of corrupt LA cop David Mack, fired the shots, Carson claimed, citing eyewitness testimony and financial evidence connecting him to the murder. Muhammad was briefly a suspect but never charged. Now 61, he is believed to be a real-estate broker in Georgia and goes by his given name, Harry Billups.
According to Sikorski, all evidence “points to Amir Muhammad as the killer. When you read those [sealed] documents there is overwhelming evidence that paints for you exactly who did the murder and why [the LAPD] covered it up.”
Investigators, he said, believed Mack and Rafael Perez, another corrupt LA cop on the Death Row payroll, were deeply involved in the murder. Their names are on the legal filings the Wallace family made in their civil suit against this city, said Sikorski, and he believes if this evidence sees the light of day the family would win hundreds of millions of dollars.
Billups and Mack did not respond to repeated efforts by The Post to reach them.
“Suge Knight financed the murder,” said Carson. “Suge was ticked off that his cash cow Tupac was murdered. Suge had an accountant that was part of Death Row Records who helped do the financial side of things to pay for the murders.” The cost of the hit is not known. Knight also festered over the belief that his friend Jake Robles was killed by a Combs bodyguard, Anthony “Wolf” Jones, at a 1995 party in Atlanta. No charges were filed in that murder. Jones was shot dead himself in 2003, also in Atlanta.
Knight is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter following a 2015 hit-and-run death during the filming of the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”
Sikorski’s film about Biggie Smalls’ murder, “City of Lies,” stars Johnny Depp as decorated former Los Angeles police detective Russell Poole — a real officer who died in 2015 after years of being frustrated by superiors in his pursuit of answers in the Biggie murder. Forest Whitaker plays fictional journalist Jack Jackson, a character based upon real-life author Randall Sullivan, whose 2003 book “LAbyrinth” chronicled the murder and the scandal that followed.
The movie was first shown at a film festival in Italy in 2018, but its wider released was delayed by controversy, including a lawsuit alleging that that Depp assaulted location manager Gregg Brooks.
“City of Lies” suggests Knight orchestrated the murder from prison, was insulated by Mack and other corrupt LA cops on his payroll, and that hitman Muhammad pulled the trigger. It’s the same theory put forth by the late detective Poole and by the “LAbyrinth” book.
The movie “nailed it,” said Carson.
Mack and Muhammad, then still known as Billups, attended the University of Oregon together in the early 1980s. Mack was a track star and Billups played football. The cop was later convicted of an August 1997 robbery, just five months after Biggie’s murder, in which he stole $722,000 from a Los Angeles Bank of America branch that informants told the FBI was meant to go to Muhammad. The money was never recovered.
Mack was released from prison in 2010. He has publicly denied his involvement in the Biggie murder.
A portion of the files obtained by The Post says “the LAPD itself had alleged that Mack and Perez were involved in the Wallace homicide” and that “the City [of LA] attempted to block all discovery into who had been aware of the [internal investigation] and/or laid finger on it.”
Carson claims he brought his case, with the blessing of his superior officers, before the local US attorney’s office, but that they failed to prosecute for fear of its impact on the city of Los Angeles and its police department, or for other reasons unbeknownst to him. The LAPD was still trying to repair its reputation battered by the videotaped 1991 beating of Rodney King and the widespread riots that followed the 1992 verdict acquitting four officers.
The former agent told The Post he’s speaking up now to finally get the justice that alluded him while with the FBI.
“I knew one day I was going to tell the truth,” said Carson. “What I went through at the time from the LAPD was sheer hell.”
Sikorski claims the contents of the FBI reports are known to key law-enforcement officials, including former New York City and Los Angeles police commissioner Bill Bratton and current LA top cop Michael Moore.
Carson and the filmmakers say enough evidence exists to bring justice and to finally solve the Biggie murder.
“We demand to know the status of the ongoing investigation,” Sikorski told the Post, “as well as request that Acting US Attorney Tracy Wilkison of the Central District of California, and Assistant Director Kristi Koons Johnson of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, open an investigation, look at the evidence and file the appropriate charges.”
The offices of Moore, Wilkison and Johnson declined to comment.