LAS VEGAS — One of the last living witnesses to the fatal 1996 drive-by shooting of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas was charged Friday with murder with use of a deadly weapon in the killing of the rapper, a long-awaited breakthrough in a case that has frustrated investigators and fascinated the public ever since the hip-hop icon was gunned down 27 years ago.
A Nevada grand jury indicted Duane “Keffe D” Davis in the killing, prosecutors announced in court Friday. Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo said a grand jury had been seated in the case for “several months.” DiGiacomo described Davis as the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur.
“I know a lot of people have been watching and waiting for this day. Tupac Shakur is a music legend and for a long time, this community and worldwide have been wanting justice for Tupac. Today we are taking that first step,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said at a police press conference Friday afternoon.
The charge was revealed hours after Davis, 60, was arrested this morning while on a walk near his home, according to DiGiacomo.
Davis has long been known to investigators and has himself admitted in interviews and in his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend,” that he was in the Cadillac where the gunfire erupted during the September 1996 drive-by shooting. Shakur was 25 when he was gunned down.
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Kevin McMahill, sheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, began the press conference by stating the investigation into Shakur’s death started Sept. 7. 1996, but “it is far from over. It has taken countless hours, really decades of work by the men and women of our homicide section to get to where we are today.”
He added that though many “did not believe that the murder of Tupac Shakur was important to this police department, I’m here to tell you that was simply not the case. It was not the case back then, and it is not the case today.”
Lt. Jason Johansson walked press through the investigation and what led to the indictment of Davis, leader and “shot caller” for the South Side Compton Crips gang. He and his nephew Orlando Anderson were in Las Vegas for a Mike Tyson fight, as were Shakur and Suge Knight. An incident involving Knight “punching and kicking” Anderson “would ultimately lead to the retaliatory shooting and death” of Shakur, Johansson said.
The lieutenant added that Las Vegas detectives knew most of the information “within the first few months of the investigation,” but “we never had the necessary evidence to bring this case forward and presented for criminal charges.” It wasn’t until 2018 that the case was “reinvigorated,” mostly thanks to Davis’ “own admissions to his involvement in this homicide investigation that he provided to numerous different media outlets. We knew at this time that this was likely our last time to take a run at this case to successfully solve this case and bring forth a criminal charge.”
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Wolfson said Shakur’s family “has reached out to my office” and they’ve been in communication.
“We understand that they’re welcoming this news, they’re pleased with this news, and they’re certainly aware of the return of this indictment,” Wolfson said.
Police searched home of Duane ‘Keffe D’ Davis’s wife before arrest
The arrest comes two months after Las Vegas police raided his wife’s home July 17 in neighboring Henderson. Documents said police were looking for items “concerning the murder of Tupac Shakur.” Johansson revealed in the press conference that police found evidence “that corroborated information obtained through our investigation.”
Police reported collecting multiple computers, a cellphone and hard drive, a Vibe magazine that featured Shakur, several .40-caliber bullets, two “tubs containing photographs” and a copy of Davis’ 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
In the book, Davis said he broke his silence over Tupac’s killing in 2010 during a closed-door meeting with federal and local authorities. At the time, he was 46 and facing life in prison on drug charges when he agreed to speak with the authorities.
“They promised they would shred the indictment and stop the grand jury if I helped them out,” he wrote.
He has described himself as one of the last living witnesses to the shooting.
Tupac Shakur murder: What happened?
Shakur was 25 when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting near the Las Vegas Strip on the night of Sept. 7, 1996. The rapper was in a BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars. They were waiting at a red light when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and gunfire erupted.
Shakur was shot multiple times and died a week later.
In 2018, after a cancer diagnosis, Davis admitted publicly in an interview for a BET show to being inside the Cadillac during the attack. He implicated his nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, saying he was one of two people in the back seat where the shots were fired.
The shooting happened shortly after a casino brawl earlier in the evening involving Anderson, Shakur and others.
Anderson denied any involvement in the Shakur shooting. He died two years later in a shooting in Compton, California.
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Shakur’s death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.
Shakur was feuding at the time with rap rival Biggie Smalls, also known as the Notorious B.I.G., who was fatally shot in March 1997. At the time, both rappers were in the middle of an East Coast-West Coast rivalry that primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s.
Who is police detective Greg Kading?
Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent years investigating the Shakur killing and wrote a book about it, said he would not be surprised by Davis’ indictment and arrest.
“It’s so long overdue,” Kading told The Associated Press during a recent interview. “People have been yearning for him to be arrested for a long time. It’s never been unsolved in our minds. It’s been unprosecuted.”
Kading said he interviewed Davis in 2008 and 2009, during Los Angeles police investigations of the killings of Shakur in Las Vegas and the slaying of Biggie Smalls.
Kading said also that he talked with a Las Vegas police detective about the case, including after the SWAT raid in July at the home in Henderson.
The former Los Angeles police detective said he believed the investigation gained new momentum in recent years following Davis’s public descriptions of his role in the killing, including his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
“It’s those events that have given Las Vegas the ammunition and the leverage to move forward,” Kading said. “Prior to Keefe D’s public declarations, the cases were unprosecutable as they stood.”
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“He put himself squarely in the middle of the conspiracy,” Kading said of Davis and the Shakur slaying. “He had acquired the gun, he had given the gun to the shooter and he had been present in the vehicle when they hunted down and located both Tupac and Suge (Knight).”
Kading noted that Davis is the last living person among the four people who were in the vehicle from which shots were fired at Shakur and rapper Marion “Suge” Knight. Others were Davis’s nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, Terrence “Bubble Up” Brown and DeAndre “Freaky” Smith.
“It’s a concerted effort of conspirators,” Kading said, adding that he believed that because the killing was premeditated Davis could face a first-degree murder charge.
“All the other direct conspirators or participants are all dead,” Kading said. “Keefe D is the last man standing among the individuals that conspired to kill Tupac.”
Cullef from USA TODAY.