Suspect Charged with 1996 Murder of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas
Although he was only 25 years old when he was brutally killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996, Tupac Shakur's legacy unarguably lives on. He was renamed at age one by his Black Panther parents after Túpac Amaru II, a legendary indigenous Peruvian revolutionary who had struggled against Spanish rule. Famous for the "Thug Life" tattoo he had etched across his torso, some of Tupac's lyrics revealed wisdom and perception well beyond his years. In June 2023, 27 years after his death, Shakur was awarded a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which followed his 2017 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Tupac's relatively short life was filled with trouble and controversy, culminating in his murder on September 7, 1996, when he was fatally shot four times at point blank range by an unknown assailant in a white Cadillac. 2Pac was on his way to an afterparty, having just attended a heavyweight boxing match featuring Mike Tyson at the MGM Grand Hotel. The conflict that had plagued so much of his life resurfaced shortly after the match, with Shakur and Marion "Suge" Knight (then the CEO of Death Row Records, which produced Shakur's music) captured on hotel security footage in an altercation. During this incident, Orlando Anderson (now deceased) appears to have taken a beating. The story goes that this beating infuriated Orlando's uncle, Duane Keith Davis, aka “Keffe D," who was also present at the match.
On Friday, September 29, 2023, 60-year-old Keffe D was indicted by a Nevada grand jury on open murder (an indictment that some states use to encompass both first and second-degree homicide, as well as manslaughter). Prosecutors are also seeking weapon and gang enhancements. It is alleged that although he did not fire the lethal shots himself, Davis procured the gun and planned the attack as vindication for his nephew's earlier humiliation. Nevada laws allow for a murder charge in cases where the suspect has helped in the commission of the crime, called aiding and abetting. At the time, Davis was the leader of the South Side Compton Crips gang, L.A. rivals to the Compton Mob Piru gang, with which Shakur and Knight were affiliated.
Does This Indictment End Decades of Speculation?
In the many years that have passed since Tupac's untimely passing, rumors and theories surrounding his death have abounded. Some have claimed that Tupac (who also went by the stage name Makaveli) is still alive. Others have implicated "Suge" Knight in Tupac's murder, who is one of the only surviving witnesses to that fateful night and was riding next to him in the black BMW at the time of the shooting. Knight also may have owed Tupac a significant amount of money. Sentenced in 2018 to 28 years' incarceration for a hit-and-run (having pleaded no contest to manslaughter). And of course, there's the well-documented antagonism with East Coast Bad Boy Records which represented rap luminary Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Christopher Wallace, commonly known by the name Notorious B.I.G. Wallace met a similar fate when he was shot dead six months after Tupac in Los Angeles. That murder remains unsolved. Tupac had accused Wallace and Sean Combs of having prior knowledge of a 1994 robbery during which Shakur was shot several times in Manhattan.
Why Now? Has Keffe D Shot Himself in the Foot?
Although it is not alleged that Keffe D fired the shots that killed the iconic Tupac, he may have managed to shoot himself in the foot.
Nevada investigators claim to have had Davis on their radar for a long time now. As early as 1998, Davis had declared to BET (Black Entertainment Television) that he was in the front of the car from which the shots at Tupac had been fired. Then, in 2009, he confessed his involvement to the police under the protection of a "proffer agreement" (as reported to CNN by Greg Kading, a former police detective who had been investigating this case previously). This means that the statements he made could not be used against him.
But Davis may have gone on to share too much, with Kading observing that "ultimately, he's talked himself right into jail."
In 2018, the case was "reinvigorated," following Davis' widespread statements to various news outlets admitting his association with the homicide — particularly that he was one of the passengers in the Cadillac from which the shots were fired.
In 2019, he went on to publish a memoir titled "Compton Street Legend" in which he appears to be bragging about having been an eyewitness to and directly involved in the fatal shooting.
This all seems to have given the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department enough to convince a grand jury to indict Davis, even after all these years.
On Wednesday, October 4, Davis made his first court appearance, following which the judge agreed to postpone his arraignment until October 19 (known as a continuance). Davis successfully argued that his defense lawyer could not be present for another two weeks.
Tupac Shakur's family, friends and fans have been waiting for closure and accountability for the past 27 years. Why justice has taken so long is debatable. There seems to have been no real conclusion regarding responsibility for Christopher Wallace (B.I.G.'s) untimely demise yet either. Tupac's brother has pinned the delay on the lack of racial justice in the U.S. - a cause both his mother and late sibling championed. Maybe it was a tragic consequence of the realities of the "Thug Life" and the omertà-like code it appears to share with other underground groups.
Tupac's music was part of the soundtrack to a generation. His tracks still appear to be popular and trending on modern media such as Tiktok and YouTube. He was a great artist and will be remembered as such.
- LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT v. CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING INC (2020) (FindLaw's Case Law)
- Owner of Tupac Website, Pac12.com, Sues Pac-10 (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Creator of Tupac Movie Sued for Copyright Infringement (FindLaw's Blog Archive)
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