In this Monday evening, July 17, 2023 image taken from police body camera video provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Las Vegas police SWAT officers, some carrying shields, while entering a home in the nearby city of Henderson, Nev., in connection with the 1997 killing of rapper Tupac Shakur near the Las Vegas Strip. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP). Inset left: Pat Johnson/MediaPunch /IPX. Inset right: Duane “Keefe D” Davis, via Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP
Police say a known gang member’s own public comments revived the investigation into the murder of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur more than two decades after he was gunned down on the Las Vegas strip.
Authorities accuse Duane “Keefe D” Davis of ordering his nephew to kill Shakur in 1996. Davis faces a charge of murder with use of a deadly weapon with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang. Davis is a member of the South Side Compton Crips, based in Compton, California.
“Duane Davis was the shot-caller for this group of individuals that committed this crime and he orchestrated the plan that was carried out to commit this crime,” Jason Johansson, homicide lieutenant with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, said during a Sept. 29 press conference.
LVMPD executed a search warrant at Davis’s Las Vegas home on July 17. He lives there with his wife, Paula Clemons.
On September 7, 1996, Davis was with Terrence Brown, Deandre Smith, and his nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, in Las Vegas. Shakur and record producer Marion “Suge” Knight, who were affiliated with a rival gang, were also in Vegas. The groups encountered one another at the MGM Grand casino following the Mike Tyson fight and there was a brawl.
Shakur and Knight left the casino with their entourage. They were in a BMW, driven by Knight, waiting at a red light near the strip when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and someone inside opened fire. Shakur was shot multiple times and died a week later.
In his memoir, “Compton Street Legend,” Davis admitted he was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac and passed a gun to the backseat, where the shots allegedly came from. He implicated his nephew, Anderson, saying he was one of two people the back of the car. Anderson had always denied any involvement in Shakur’s death and died in 1998. The others in the Cadillac that night are also dead, leaving Davis as the only surviving passenger.
Knight allegedly knew who shot at their car but would not talk to police, so investigators said they couldn’t make an arrest. Years later, Davis found himself in trouble on drug charges, and in 2009 agreed to confess to his role in the killing of Shakur. But that confession, known as a proffer, couldn’t actually be used to prosecute him.
With Davis in custody, police first wanted to speak with him in connection with the murder of Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G. Wallace was gunned down while in a car outside a party in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. But during the interview, Davis revealed he knew more about the death of Shakur, than Wallace.
Former Los Angeles Police homicide detective Greg Kading was there when Davis told police what happened the night of Sept. 7, 1996. He spoke with Angenette Levy for Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast.
“It’s been a long time coming. I mean, better late than never, they say, but holy smokes, 27 years have gone by,” Kading said. “I’m just so glad to see that someone is finally being held accountable for the murder of Tupac. So I’m just stoked.”
Kading says it was frustrating to see someone confess to murder, but be unable to take the case to court.
“It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove. And we couldn’t use his self-incriminating confession back in 2009,” Kading says. “But because of that, he had this false perception that he had immunity. And so he began to go out and boast publicly about his role in the murder. So, in essence, he talked himself right into jail. And so to see his confession being brought to light, his involvement being brought to light, and then his arrest and pending prosecution being pending, I’m so glad to see history finally getting set straight. This is not an unsolved murder. It has just been an unprosecuted murder.”
Levy asked Kading about Duane Davis and how important he really was to the South Side Compton Crips.
“He was relevant because he was dealing a lot of dope; and because he had a lot of dope, he had a lot of money; and because he had a lot of money, he had influence,” Kading told Levy. “So it’s just those things. But he is a bit of a blowhard. He’s not like his nephew, Orlando, who was the actual gunman who killed Tupac. That was a real serious, committed gangster who was a killer. ‘Keefe D’ is a little bit more of a figurehead, so to speak, and he’s definitely a legend in his own mind. But all things considered, he’s not who he presents himself to be in the sense of this big, dangerous, infamous gangster.”
Duane Davis will be in court Wednesday morning in Las Vegas for his arraignment. He will enter a plea to the charges at that time.
“You know, now we can close it,” Kading says. “Tupac can rest in peace and we can move on. And now we really know that, you know, that mystery has been solved.”
Read the indictment of Duane “Keefe D” Davis, below.
Angenette Levy contributed to this report.
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