Entertainers and hip-hop fans are mourning the death of the Los Angeles Police detective who investigated the 1997 slaying of rapper Biggie Smalls. TMZ.com reports that Russell Poole, 58, died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday while interviewing an L.A. County Sheriff’s captain for a book about the killing.
“Poole believed LAPD officers who worked off duty for Suge Knight had a hand in Biggie’s killing … as retaliation for Tupac [Shakur]’s murder,” TMZ reports. “We’re told Poole was interviewing the captain when he clutched his chest, said ‘I think I’m having a heart attack,’ and then keeled over.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that social media reacted with sadness Thursday to news of Poole’s death. The report quotes rapper Busta Rhymes writing on Instagram: “RIP Detective Russell Poole!! Thank u 4 dedicating your life to trying to solve B.I.G.’s death.”
Music journalist Jeff Weiss, who wrote about Poole’s work on the Smalls case just two months ago, is quoted by the Times with this response on Twitter to Poole’s death: “RIP to Russell Poole. One of the few LAPD officers with supreme integrity. No one chased the truth about Biggie and Pac’s deaths harder. This is really sad. Poole was a razor sharp detective. We’d talked a lot recently about doing a big story aiming to re-open the Pac death.”
Smalls, also known as Notorious B.I.G. and born Christopher Wallace, was shot to death on March 9, 1997, while he was stopped at a red light in the Mid-Wilshire area of L.A., the Times notes. Wallace was 24 at the time.
“The New York rapper’s death spawned countless conspiracy theories. … Poole advanced the theory that Wallace’s death came from a plot involving a corrupt LAPD detective and Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, who headed Shakur’s company when Shakur was killed. Wallace’s killing was retaliation, Poole suggested,” the Times reports.
TMZ adds: “Law enforcement sources tell us Poole — who was 58 — made it known he believed the LAPD wanted him dead. There’s no evidence of foul play, and in fact we’re told Poole suffered from chronic high blood pressure.”