Late rapper NOTORIOUS B.I.G.'s family have blamed the LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT (LAPD) for his mysterious death seven years ago (09MAR97) - and the accusation is about to get tested in court.

The star's mother VOLETTA WALLACE and his widow, singer Faith Evans, filed a wrongful-death suit two-years-ago (02) in a federal court against the city of Los Angeles as well as former and current LAPD police chiefs, and it has just been cleared to go to trial.

Lawyers representing the estate of the musician - real name CHRISTOPHER WALLACE - last month (21JUN04) prevailed in a hearing with the court denying a motion to dismiss the case. Attorney Perry Sanders called this victory "huge".

Sanders says, "The motion to dismiss alleged that we couldn't possibly prove to a jury that (former officer) DAVID MACK acted under the colour of law even if we proved he committed the crime. The judge, after reviewing the totality of the circumstances, determined that a jury could find that Mack acted under colour of law if they determined he did the crime."

This issue of "under colour of law" - committing an act with the supposed authority of the law - is central to the case since Mack, the accused police officer, was off-duty on the date of Wallace's murder and according to the theory behind the suit, he conspired to murder Biggie.

And Instead of investigating, disciplining and prosecuting the officers involved, the suit alleges, various LAPD chiefs "intentionally, willfully and recklessly delayed and stopped the investigation" to protect the force and the city.

Judge FLORENCE-MARIE COOPER says, "In addition, it appeared that police radios were used to monitor the location and response of law enforcement to the shooting, as well as to facilitate escaping after the shooting, concealing the vehicle, and disposing of the weapon,"

The wrongful death suit goes to trial on 5 October (04).

The hip-hop star was fatally shot while sitting in a sports utility vehicle (SUV) after attending a post-SOUL TRAIN MUSIC AWARDS party in Los Angeles.

12/07/2004 17:18