Russell Poole, the former Los Angeles Police Department detective who was the main investigator in the March 9th, 1997 shooting death of the Notorious B.I.G., died suddenly Wednesday. Poole reportedly suffered a heart attack while meeting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide investigators to discuss a cold case, the Los Angeles Times reports, and was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Poole investigated the Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace murder for approximately a year, and with his findings, pushed a theory that Suge Knight orchestrated the rapper’s drive-by shooting death following a Soul Train Awards after-party. Poole believed that Knight, with the help of LAPD officer David Mack and another associate, was responsible for B.I.G.’s death as “retaliation” for the murder of Tupac Shakur a year earlier. However, as Poole said in Nick Broomfield’s 2002 documentary Biggie & Tupac, he also believed the Death Row mogul staged the Shakur shooting to avoid paying the rapper millions of dollars in royalties.
“Had we’d been able to aggressively investigate [the B.I.G. shooting] and had the heart to connect the two and do a thorough investigation, I think we probably would have found out more information,” Poole said. “I think the fact that law enforcement officers were working for Death Row, that was a scandal in itself… Suge Knight, to me, was one of the most powerful gangsters around. He was well-organized, he had a lot of power, and what gave him the power, he had dozens and dozens of police officers working in his organization.”
Broomfield’s film revolved around Poole’s theory, as did a 2005 civil suit filed by the Wallace family against the city of Los Angeles. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in 2010. Poole left the LAPD in 1999 after growing disagreements with the police force on numerous homicides, including the B.I.G. murder.
Although Poole dedicated much of his efforts to working the rapper’s death while pursuing work as a private detective, he also was the basis of a book titled LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., the Implication of Death Row Records’ Suge Knight, and the Origins of the Los Angeles Police Scandal. Wallace’s murder remains unsolved.