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  • Judge Rules for Family of Slain Rapper and Sets New Trial Date

    In the latest twist in the saga surrounding the slaying of rap star Notorious B.I.G., a federal judge Friday sided with his family in their wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. U.S. 2nd District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said the family of the rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace and was also known as Biggie Smalls, had not tried to deceive the court about their knowledge of a prison informant who had contended that former Los Angeles Police Officer Rafael Perez had talked to him about the killing.

    Moreover, Cooper said the city had deliberately concealed "hundreds of documents" regarding the prison informant. Cooper set an Oct. 16 trial date for the family's lawsuit.

    Wallace, 24, was shot to death March 9, 1997, at a music-industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The killing remains unsolved.

    In 2002, his family sued the city, alleging that the Los Angeles Police Department covered up the participation of officers in Wallace's death in particular Perez and Officer David Mack, both key figures in the Rampart scandal.

    The case went to trial last year but quickly ended in a mistrial after a lawyer for the family said he received a tip that the Los Angeles Police Department was withholding information that the informant had provided about Perez's alleged involvement in the slaying. In January, Cooper ruled that the city had concealed evidence, and ordered it to pay $1.1 million in sanctions.

    The case took another turn last month when the city produced a report contending that the family had known about the informant long before the trial began, showing, in effect, that the city had concealed nothing. They argued that the family had deceived the court, and Cooper initially agreed.

    But on Friday Cooper ruled that there had been no deception and set the trial date.

    Brad Gage, an attorney for the Wallace family, said Cooper's decision "confirms that the city of Los Angeles intentionally concealed documents about the murder of Christopher Wallace," in particular an internal affairs investigation that alleged that Mack and Perez participated in the Wallace killing.