Over two decades after the tragic killing of Tupac Shakur, which left an indelible mark on the world of hip-hop, Las Vegas prosecutors have announced the indictment of a self-professed gang member, Duane Keith Davis, on a murder charge. This development has breathed new life into an investigation that had long remained dormant.
According to Mr. Davis, who has detailed his involvement in interviews and his memoir, he occupied the front passenger seat of a white Cadillac that pulled up alongside Tupac Shakur's vehicle after a 1996 prizefight between Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas. During that fateful encounter, Shakur was shot four times and succumbed to his injuries less than a week later.
A grand jury in Clark County has charged Mr. Davis with one count of murder with the use of a deadly weapon, as well as a gang enhancement, as confirmed by a prosecutor during a court hearing on Friday. Mr. Davis is currently in custody without bail.
Despite widespread speculation and media attention spanning nearly three decades, no charges had previously been brought against anyone in connection with Tupac Shakur's shooting. The case resurfaced in July when Las Vegas police executed a search warrant at a residence in Henderson, Nevada, linked to Mr. Davis.
During the recent court hearing, Marc DiGiacomo, a chief deputy district attorney in Clark County, alleged that Mr. Davis was the orchestrator of the attack, stating that he "ordered the death" of Tupac Shakur and attempted murder of Marion Knight, the rap mogul known as Suge, who was driving the car with Shakur. It remains unclear if Mr. Davis has legal representation.
In his 2019 memoir titled "Compton Street Legend," Mr. Davis, also known as Keffe D, recounted a gang dispute that escalated after Shakur and his associates reportedly assaulted Mr. Davis's nephew, Orlando Anderson, following the boxing match at the MGM Grand hotel. Mr. Davis mentioned, "Them jumping on my nephew gave us the ultimate green light to do something. Tupac chose the wrong game to play."
The indictment accuses Mr. Davis of procuring a firearm "for the purpose of seeking retribution against" Tupac Shakur and Marion Knight, and of passing the weapon to either his nephew or another individual in the Cadillac, with "the intent that this crime be committed." Notably, Mr. Davis is the sole surviving occupant of the vehicle.
Mr. DiGiacomo acknowledged that the basic details of the incident were known to the police as early as 1996 but emphasized the need for admissible evidence to establish the sequence of events. He pointed out that Mr. Davis later publicly described his role in the crime, including acquiring the firearm with the intent to harm Shakur and Knight.
In a news conference, the Las Vegas police confirmed that Mr. Davis's public statements reignited their interest in the case, notably his 2018 television appearance. Lt. Jason Johansson of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department stated, "We knew at this time that this was likely our last time to take a run at this case."
Although Mr. Davis had not directly identified the shooter in recent interviews, a taped confession, released by a former Los Angeles Police Department detective who investigated Shakur's murder, indicated that Mr. Anderson, his nephew known as Baby Lane, was the gunman. Mr. Anderson was questioned by investigators but died in a shooting in 1998.
According to Mr. Davis, after the shooting, he and the others abandoned the Cadillac, returned to their hotel, and retrieved the vehicle the next day. They then transported it back to California, where it was cleaned and repainted before being returned to the rental agency, rendering it impossible for forensic analysis.
Tupac Shakur's murder initially led to numerous arrests in connection with suspected gang-related shootings. However, as years passed without any charges, conspiracy theories and accusations of police negligence emerged. The Las Vegas police cited a lack of cooperation from individuals close to Shakur as a hindrance to the investigation.
The killings of Tupac Shakur and his friend-turned-rival, the Notorious B.I.G., six months later, have fueled countless conspiracy theories and inspired books, podcasts, TV series, and films, further immortalizing Shakur's legacy in hip-hop. The Los Angeles Police Department's revival of the investigation into the Notorious B.I.G.'s death in the mid-2000s ultimately led to a reexamination of Shakur's case.
One of the detectives involved, Greg Kading, wrote a book detailing how investigators convinced Mr. Davis to cooperate through a proffer agreement, ensuring that he would not face charges based on any incriminating statements made during interviews. In his memoir, Mr. Davis acknowledged his cooperation, stating, "I sang because they promised I would not be prosecuted."
On the night of the shooting, Shakur and Marion Knight were traveling in a BMW toward a post-fight party at Club 662, a venue supported by their record label, Death Row Records.
Mr. Davis, who identified as a member of the Crips, recounted that he, along with Mr. Anderson and others, armed themselves and waited in the nightclub parking lot, hoping to confront Shakur and Knight, who were associated with the Bloods gang, about the earlier violence. When Shakur did not appear as expected, Mr. Davis claimed that they left for their hotel but encountered Shakur and Knight at a red light. He described it as an opportunity to address the perceived disrespect following the earlier altercation.
Tupac's and Biggie's deaths, according to Mr. Davis, were the tragic consequences of violating the strict street code, highlighting the explosive collision between the worlds of street life, entertainment, and corrupt law enforcement.
In an interview with DJ Vlad, Mr. Davis was asked if he was concerned that his disclosures could lead to prosecution.
Despite his previous incarceration for approximately 15 years, partly due to federal drug charges, Mr. Davis expressed a lack of fear regarding potential imprisonment, stating, "They want to put me in jail for life? That's just something I got to do."