Rap shooting trial collapses over police's failure to release papers

The rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, was shot dead as he left a party in Los Angeles in 1997. He had been with his friend, the producer Sean Combs, who is now better known as P Diddy.

After only three days of testimony in the Los Angeles trial, which began on 21 June, the proceedings were interrupted by an anonymous tip that a large number of documents from the Los Angeles Police Department had not been turned over to the family of the New York rapper. US District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper expressed her concern and declared the mistrial.

Wallace's family was suing the city and the Los Angeles Police Department. They claim a corrupt police officer, under the command of a rival rap record label founder, had arranged to have the rapper killed and that the department covered up the involvement of the officer in question.

Because of the mistrial, the family can now re-file the lawsuit that incorporates the new information, including linking Wallace's death to a corruption scandal that plagued the LAPD during the 1990s.

At the time of his death, Wallace and his record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, were entangled in a bitter feud with Death Row Records' founder Marion "Suge" Knight and his star act Tupac Shakur. Shakur was shot dead in Las Vegas six months before Wallace was killed; that case also remains unsolved.

Earlier this year the FBI closed its 18-month inquiry into Wallace's death, saying that there was not enough evidence to act. Following Wallace's murder, Combs, recording under the name Puff Daddy, released the single "I'll Be Missing You" as a tribute to his friend.

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