Death Row Stories is a series of one-hour documentaries. Each episode attempts to unravel the truth behind a different capital murder case. These stories call into question various beliefs surrounding America's justice system and the death penalty.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Death Row Stories - Suge Knight - Netflix
Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr. (; born April 19, 1965) is an American record producer, music executive, and a former American football player. He is best known as the co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Death Row Records rose to dominate the rap charts after Dr. Dre's breakthrough album The Chronic in 1992. After several years of chart successes for artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Outlawz and Tha Dogg Pound, Death Row Records stagnated after Knight's incarceration on probation violation charges in September 1996 and went bankrupt in 2006. In February of 2015, Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder following a fatal hit-and-run in Compton, California. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Death Row Stories - Murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls: Theories accusing Knight - Netflix
Tupac Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 7, 1996, and died six days later on September 13. When Shakur's East Coast rival, The Notorious B.I.G. (AKA Biggie Smalls), was murdered in a similar drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California on March 9, 1997, speculation arose that Knight was involved and that Biggie's death was a revenge killing. Former Death Row artists, including Snoop Dogg, also later accused Knight of being involved in Tupac's murder. A theory accusing Suge Knight in the deaths of both Biggie and Tupac was that of ex-detective Russell Poole, who conjectured that Knight had Tupac killed before he could part ways with Knight's label and then conspired to kill Biggie to divert attention from himself in the Tupac case. The convoluted Biggie murder theory implicated Suge Knight, a rogue cop, a mortgage broker named Amir Muhammad (who was never a police suspect) along with the chief of police and the LAPD in a conspiracy to murder and cover up the murder of Biggie. The Biggie theory formed the basis of a US$500 million lawsuit by his family, the Wallaces, against the city of Los Angeles. A key source for Poole's theory was Kevin Hackie. Hackie had implicated Suge Knight and David Mack. Hackie, a former Death Row associate, said that he had knowledge of involvement between Suge Knight and David Mack and other LAPD officers. His information was used by the Wallace family in their suit against the city of L.A. for Biggie's death. But Hackie later told a Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips that the Wallace attorneys had altered his declarations. The suit brought by the Wallace family against the city of L.A. based on the Russell Poole theory was dismissed in 2010. A 2005 Los Angeles Times article claimed that another source for the theory of Biggie's murder implicating Amir Muhammad, David Mack, Suge Knight and the LAPD was a schizophrenic man known as “Psycho Mike” who later confessed to hearsay and memory lapses and falsely identifying Muhammad. John Cook of Brill's Content noted that Philips' article “demolished” the Poole-Sullvan theory of Biggie's murder. Around the same time, Philips wrote an L.A. Times two-part series titled “Who Killed Tupac Shakur?” into the murder of Shakur and events surrounding it based on police affidavits, court documents and interviews. The L.A. Times story indicated that “the shooting was carried out by a Compton gang called the Southside Crips to avenge the beating of one of its members by Shakur a few hours earlier. Orlando Anderson, the Crip whom Shakur had attacked, fired the fatal shots. Las Vegas police discounted Anderson as a suspect after questioning him once briefly. He was later killed in what police said was an unrelated gang shooting.” The article implicated East Coast music figures, including Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace, Shakur's nemesis at the time, alleging that he paid for the gun. Before their own deaths, Smalls and his family and Anderson denied any role in Shakur's murder. Biggie's family produced documents purporting to show that the rapper was in New York and New Jersey at the time. The New York Times called the documents inconclusive stating:
The pages purport to be three computer printouts from Daddy's House, indicating that Wallace was in the studio recording a song called Nasty Boy on the afternoon Shakur was shot. They indicate that Wallace wrote half the session, was In and out/sat around and laid down a ref, shorthand for a reference vocal, the equivalent of a first take. But nothing indicates when the documents were created. And Louis Alfred, the recording engineer listed on the sheets, said in an interview that he remembered recording the song with Wallace in a late-night session, not during the day. He could not recall the date of the session but said it was likely not the night Shakur was shot. We would have heard about it, Mr. Alfred said.
Soon after the article was published, The Smoking Gun revealed that Philips' FBI documents were fake. Mark Duvoisin, an editor at the L.A. Times, wrote in an opinion piece in Rolling Stone that Philips' account had withstood attacks to its credibility. But the L.A. Times printed a full retraction of the two-part series and released Philips shortly thereafter during a wave of layoffs. In Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake, a documentary by Tupac Shakur's bodyguard, he and Cathy Scott, author of The Killing of Tupac Shakur and The Murder of Biggie Smalls, said that Knight would not have placed himself in the path of bullets he knew were coming. On her website Archived Letters Scott responds to a reader of her book stating that she felt there was never evidence to link Knight to Tupac's murder. Scott also told CNN, “That theory doesn’t even add up. 'Open fire on my car, but try not to hit me?'” A 2006 law-enforcement task force probe into Biggie Smalls' murder, which included then-LAPD Detective Greg Kading, included the murder of Shakur. In his 2011 self-published book, Murder Rap, Kading wrote that Duane “Keefe D” Davis, a member of the “Crips” street gang, gave a confession years later claiming he rode in the car used in the Las Vegas shooting of Shakur. The Crips claimed they had been offered a million dollars by associates of Bad Boy records to kill Shakur. Kading, who named Sean Combs as having been involved in the conspiracy, also wrote that a bounty was offered for Suge Knight's murder. While in Las Vegas, Kading's book claims, Davis and fellow Crips members crossed paths with a BMW carrying Knight and Shakur. The fatal shots were fired by Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, who sat on the side of the car closest to the BMW. Kading alleged that Knight hired Wardel “Pouchie” Fouse to kill Sean Combs' most valuable star, Biggie Smalls, a murder done following a party at the Peterson Automotive Museum. Pouchie later survived a murder attempt but died in a drive-by shooting a year after the first attack. Charges were never brought against Fouse or Knight and the task force disbanded for reasons of “internal affairs.” After Shakur's death and the release of Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg openly criticized Knight for the murder of Shakur and left the label in 1998. He signed with Master P's No Limit Records and then forming his own record label, Doggystyle Records. In 2002, Snoop released the song “Pimp Slapp’d”, in which he repudiated Knight and Death Row. In 2006, Snoop again attacked Knight verbally. Knight responded, stating that Snoop was a “police informer” who “never goes to jail”.
Death Row Stories - References - Netflix