LAPD apologizes to family of Notorious B.I.G. for autopsy's premature release
The Los Angeles County coroner's office made the autopsy of the rapper, whose real name was Christopher George Latore Wallace, public after the LAPD OKd its release Friday. The Police Department blamed the snafu on an administrative error.
The LAPD opted to release the autopsy "as an investigative tool, in the hopes that releasing the report would stimulate additional interest or bring forth witnesses or clues in the case.” Wallace was shot four times in March 1997 in a drive-by attack on Wilshire Boulevard. The case remains unsolved.
"Due to an administrative error, the autopsy report was released prematurely. Robbery-Homicide Division detectives had intended to notify Mr. Wallace's family prior to releasing the report," the LAPD said in a statement.
"Our detectives personally spoke with the Wallace family [Friday] night, and apologized for not notifying them prior to the release" said Capt. Billy Hayes, who heads the Robbery-Homicide Division, which is investigating the killing. "Obviously this has been a challenging case for us to solve. We hope that witnesses or other people with information will come forward and give us the clues we need to solve this case."
Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney for the family criticized the LAPD on Friday for failing to alert Smalls’ family.
In most instances, the results of an autopsy are released shortly after the coroner has completed its investigation. In a few instances, particularly high-profile investigations, the autopsy results are withheld while the case is under investigation.
The LAPD took the unusual step of unsealing Wallace’s 15-year-old autopsy report, saying they hoped to generate new leads in the murder mystery. The 23-page document provided details about the shooting.
Wallace, who had been sitting in a sport utility vehicle, was killed by a shot that entered his right hip before slicing through his colon, liver, heart and part of his lung before wedging in his left shoulder area, according to the report signed by Dr. Lisa Scheinin, deputy medical examiner.
One shot hit Wallace's left forearm and traveled down to his wrist, another hit him in the back and exited his body through his left shoulder, the report said. Another shot hit his left thigh and traveled through to his inner thigh.
Examiners noted that they could not determine the sequence of the shots.
The Brooklyn rapper was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency surgery. Two medium-caliber lead bullets were recovered from his hospital gurney.
No drugs or alcohol were found in Wallace's system, according to a toxicology screen.
Images: Left, rapper Notorious B.I.G. Right, a diagram from his autopsy. Credits: Los Angeles Times/ Los Angeles County coroner's office