All this time later, the exact events surrounding the murder of Tupac Shakur remain a mystery. The case is unsolved nearly 18 years after the 25-year-old was shot down following a Mike Tyson boxing match, and opinions vary greatly on who might have been responsible for his death.
Now we have the account of the Las Vegas police officer who first arrived at the fatal drive-by on the night of September 7, 1996 -- and it's pretty interesting. Not only do we have Tupac's alleged last words, which are perhaps exactly what you'd expect from a man who tattooed THUG LIFE across his abs, but we also have the officer's convincing argument on the involvement of former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight.
Former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Chris Carroll has given a lengthy public account of what he saw the night Tupac died, saying he'd kept quiet about it before because the case was still open. Now, however, he says "an unsolved homicide case is technically never closed. But nothing more is ever going to happen with it."
We know Shakur was riding shotgun in Suge Knight’s BMW when several men rolled up in a white Cadillac and one opened fire at the intersection of Flamingo and Koval. Shakur was shot multiple times, and Carroll was the first officer to respond to the scene:
I grabbed him with my left arm and he falls into me, and I’ve still got my gun in the other hand. He’s covered with blood, and I immediately notice that the guy’s got a ton of gold on - a necklace and other jewellery - and all of the gold is covered in blood. That has always left an image in my mind. (…) After I pulled him out, Suge starts yelling at him, ‘Pac! Pac!’ And he just keeps yelling it. And the guy I’m holding is trying to yell back at him. He’s sitting up and he’s struggling to get the words out, but he can’t really do it. And as Suge is yelling ‘Pac!,’ I look down and I realize that this is Tupac Shakur.
Carroll said he made an attempt to get Shakur to make a "dying declaration," a legal concept that essentially states that if someone who believes they’re going to die gives out the name of a suspect, it's considered admissible evidence in court.
I’m looking at Tupac, and he’s trying to yell back at Suge, and I’m asking him, ‘Who shot you? What happened? Who did it?’ And he was just kind of ignoring me. He was making eye contact with me here and there, but he’s trying to yell at Suge. And I kept asking over and over, ‘Who did this? Who shot you?’ And he basically kept ignoring me. And then I saw in his face, in his movements, all of a sudden in the snap of a finger, he changed. And he went from struggling to speak, being non-cooperative, to an ‘I’m at peace’ type of thing. Just like that.
He went from fighting to ‘I can’t do it.’ And when he made that transition, he looked at me, and he’s looking right in my eyes. And that’s when I looked at him and said one more time, ‘Who shot you?’ He looked at me and he took a breath to get the words out, and he opened his mouth, and I thought I was actually going to get some cooperation. And then the words came out: 'Fuck you.’
Shakur slipped into unconsciousness after that, and was eventually removed from life support six days later. He never spoke again.
Carroll says he never publicly shared Shakur's final words because,
I didn’t want Tupac to be a martyr or hero because he told the cops ‘'Fuck you.’ I didn’t want to give him that. I didn’t want people to say, ‘Even when the chips were down, his life on the line, he still said ‘Fuck you,’ he still wouldn’t talk to the police.’ I didn’t want him to be a hero for that. And now enough time has passed, well, he’s a martyr anyway; he’s viewed as a hero anyway. My story, at this point, isn’t going to change any of that.
On the topic of Suge Knight's involvement, however, Carroll says no way did Knight have Shakur killed:
I’ve heard all the conspiracy theories that have come out, that Suge had something to do with it. And I’ll tell you, that didn’t happen. And one reason is: You don’t hire somebody to kill the guy who’s sitting next to you. And second of all: When we were at the scene, and he was yelling at Tupac, it was clear he had legitimate concern for him. It wasn’t acting; you could see it was the heat of the moment. This is not the guy who had him killed; it’s ridiculous.
The suspect considered by many to be responsible for Tupac Shakur's death was Orlando Anderson, a man shot to death in Compton in 1998. No official charges were ever brought against him, though, and even with these new revelations from Chris Carroll, it seems unlikely that Shakur's killer will ever be identified.
As Carroll suspected, the idea of a man refusing to snitch, even at the bitter end, feeds into Tupac's legendary gangster status. I'm not sure it matters much, 18 years later, but it certainly adds to the mystery of it all.
Who do you think killed Tupac Shakur?
Image via mp3waxx/Flickr