Notorious B.I.G.'s autopsy report released 15 years after his death
Fifteen years after rapper Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in one of L.A.'s most notorious unsolved homicides, the Los Angeles County Coroner has unsealed his 23-page autopsy report, providing the most detailed view yet on his death.
The report shows that a bullet entered the rapper's right hip, and fatally pierced several organs.
Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher George Latore Wallace, died in March 1997 when an unknown assailant shot him four times during a drive-by shooting on Wilshire Boulevard as the music star sat in the front passenger seat of a Chevrolet Suburban. The killing of the rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, remains unsolved despite an LAPD task force that examined the death.
According to the autopsy, one shot hit Wallace's left forearm and traveled down to his wrist while a another shot hit him in the back and exited his body through his left shoulder. Another shot hit his left thigh and traveled through to his inner thigh before glancing off his scrotum. None of those rounds were fatal.
The fatal shot, according to Dr. Lisa Scheinin, entered his right hip before slicing through his colon, liver, heart and part of his lung before wedging in his left shoulder area.
Examiners noted they could not tell the sequence of the shots. They recovered two medium-caliber lead bullets.
The Brooklyn rapper was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed emergency surgery, but he succumbed to his wounds.
At the time of his death, he weighed 395 pounds, according to the report. A tattoo on an inside forearm said: "The Lord is My Light and My Salvation..."
No drugs or alcohol were found in his system, according to a toxicology screen.
The shooting occurred outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Miracle Mile area as the rapper was leaving a music industry party. At the time of his death, Wallace was one of the biggest stars in rap music. Coroner's officials noted he arrived at Cedar's in full cardiac arrest and died shortly after.
His slaying shocked the hip-hop community, coming just months after the Las Vegas slaying of another marquee rapper, Los Angeles-based Tupac Shakur.
Once friends, the rappers became rivals whose respective camps regularly traded violent barbs in song lyrics and in interviews. Shakur's slaying also remains unsolved. Various theories have linked the two homicides. Some believe the two men were killed as part of a rivalry between East Coast and West Coast rappers, or between their two music labels at the time, Los Angeles-based Death Row and New York-based Bad Boy Entertainment.
Amid questions about the killing, the FBI investigated various theories, including one from a former LAPD detective, who later publicly suggested that Wallace may have been killed by a hit man hired by a corrupt ex-LAPD officer on behalf of Marion "Suge" Knight, the founder of Death Row Records.
The FBI opened its probe after Wallace's family accused the city of covering up LAPD involvement in the rapper's slaying. Los Angeles police officials last year said they exhaustively searched for answers in the case without an arrest.
-- Richard Winton
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B.I.G. in a Los Angeles hotel room in 1997 where he was promoting his double almum "Life After Death." Credit: Los Angeles Times