By Cathy Scott
LAS VEGAS SUN
Afeni Shakur, mother of slain rapper Tupac Shakur, has publicly chastised Metro Police for not finding her son’s killer and not keeping her informed about the case.
Afeni Shakur’s spokesman, New York attorney Rick Fischbein, told the SUN, „It’s an outrage that Las Vegas police are sitting around waiting for a suspect to come to them.“
Afeni Shakur, who lives in Atlanta, also told „Prime Time Live,“ which airs tonight on ABC, that Metro Police have yet to talk to her about the case.
„I believe that had she been anyone else, they would have had the courtesy to call her,“ Fischbein said. „God forbid, if it were the son of a prominent citizen of Las Vegas, she is certain that the police would keep in contact at least to tell her what is going on.“
But homicide Lt. Wayne Petersen denied that, saying that Shakur’s mother, when contacted by Metro detectives, refused to talk.
„The first time we contacted Mrs. Shakur she would not talk to us,“ Petersen said. „All of the other contacts were made through her attorney.“
Shakur, one of rap’s most popular and notorious singers and a successful film star, was gunned down Sept. 7 on East Flamingo Road near the Strip as he sat at a stoplight in a car driven by record label owner Marion „Suge“ Knight. Knight, 31, received a minor head wound from shrapnel. Shakur, who was shot three times, died six days later at University Medical Center.
Shots were fired at the passenger side of Knight’s rented BMW from a white late-model Cadillac at Flamingo and Koval Lane, after Shakur and his associates attended the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand.
As the shooters fled, Knight made a U-turn and headed back to the Strip, where he was stopped by Metro bicycle patrol officers at Harmon Avenue along with four cars from the entourage. Members of the entourage, which included rap associates and bodyguards, did not cooperate with the police, Manning said.
Fischbein said Afeni Shakur believes that if she were a prominent Las Vegan, police would have kept her informed on the progress of the investigation.
„Afeni’s comment is, it’s not going to bring her son back if they catch the killers or they don’t catch them,“ Fischbein said. „On the other hand, it would be nice if the Las Vegas police department tried because that would be the right thing to do. It would show that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you get shot, the police are going to be there to do something.“
Homicide Sgt. Kevin Manning disagreed.
„We’d like to solve every case,“ he said. „In this particular case, there’s personal pride and organizational pride involved. We’d love to put handcuffs on somebody. Once again, it comes back to that until somebody has the courage to take the witness stand and put themselves in front of the prosecution and defense attorneys to answer hard questions, the case is at a standstill.“
Manning said drive-by cases aren’t always easy to solve, calling criticism of the investigation „unwarranted.“
„This isn’t like you have fiber evidence and hair evidence,“ Manning said. „You’re talking about a drive-by shooting that leaves very little evidence behind.“
Manning also defended the handling of witnesses in Shakur’s entourage who were ordered out of their cars and put face down on the ground by officers arriving on the scene.
„The witnesses were all isolated when we got there,“ he said. „When the cars were stopped, the guys handled it until they were able to know what was going on.“
Manning said investigators on the case „have exhausted just about every lead we’ve received, including the ones that have taken us off on tangents.“
Manning criticized a recent front-page article in the Los Angeles Times that quoted unnamed sources from Los Angeles area law enforcement criticizing his investigation.
„No one has come forward,“ Manning said. „Nobody appears willing to take the witness stand and point an accusatory finger at any one or any group of people. … All the police do is put the package together for prosecution. You nor I can go in and testify to an event that occurred. I can’t go into court with an unnamed source.“
Compton Police Chief Hourie Taylor declined comment, saying, „Our official statement is we developed some information that we thought would be useful to Las Vegas police.“
Petersen said investigators would love to „bring the killers to justice“ and defended the officers who first arrived because they had to preserve the crime scene for detectives.
Fischbein said part of the reason Shakur’s associates did not cooperate was because they were treated like criminals.
Fischbein, acknowledging that „it was probably total chaos that night,“ said that officers „took the wrong people out of cars and held them face down in the street.“
„It did not endear any of the people at that moment to the police,“ Fischbein said. „Let’s say they’re not the most sensitive police force in America.“
„Columbo would have followed up. It’s a circus act out there that’s working on this case. There’s an attempt to turn Las Vegas into Disney World of the West. When you’re turning it into Disney World, it’s not good business to have a gang drive-by murder on the lawn to the queen’s castle. This is not their first priority.“
Investigators, however, have said they believe they know who killed Shakur but that they don’t have enough evidence to arrest him.
Detectives were hopeful that an interview of Orlando Anderson, 22, arrested in Los Angeles during an Oct. 2 gang sweep, would provide new evidence.
Anderson was held in Los Angeles for questioning by Metro detectives in connection with the Shakur shooting and a 1994 Los Angeles murder. He has not been charged in either case.
Fischbein did compliment Metro for its handling of Anderson.
„I have no criticism of them for not arresting someone when they don’t believe they have enough evidence to convict,“ Fischbein said. „In fact, you have to applaud the police when they show that kind of restraint.“