LAS VEGAS (NEXSTAR) — Twenty-seven years after the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, a Las Vegas-area grand jury has indicted a man with the icon’s murder, Nexstar’s KLAS confirmed Friday.
The arrest and indictment are a long-awaited break in the 1996 drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip that killed the rap legend, a case that has frustrated investigators and fascinated the public for nearly three decades.
“Ultimately, our persistence in this investigation paid off,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Jason Johansson said Friday during a news conference.
He said Metro detectives had a lot of information about the crime but didn’t have the necessary evidence until recently to arrest 60-year-old Duane “Keffe D” Davis. A Clark County grand jury voted to indict him on a charge of murder with a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement. Police arrested Davis early Friday near his home, prosecutors said.
Davis wrote a book and did several interviews where he said he was in the car with the person who shot Shakur and record executive Suge Knight near the Las Vegas Strip in September 1996. Shakur died six days later from his injuries.
Davis, who is not believed to have fired the fatal shots, still faces a murder charge as he is accused of aiding and abetting in Shakur’s killing.
During the grand jury return hearing on Friday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo said Davis’ public statements implicated him, adding Davis allegedly ordered Shakur’s death.
The above video shows the search of the home belonging to the wife of Duane “Keffe D” Davis in July.
“Today justice will be served in the murder of Tupac Shakur,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said. “I know a lot of people have been watching and waiting for this day.”
Davis has long been known to investigators and has himself admitted in interviews and in his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend,” that he was in the Cadillac where the gunfire erupted during the September 1996 drive-by shooting.
“Tupac made an erratic move and began to reach down beneath his seat,” Davis writes in the book. “It was the first and only time in my life that I could relate to the police command, ‘Keep your hands where I can see them.’ Instead, Pac pulled out a strap, and that’s when the fireworks started. One of my guys from the back seat grabbed the Glock and started bustin’ back.”
“When we pulled up, I was in the front seat,” Davis said in a 2018 BET interview. “Happen to see my friend, Suge.”
“You said the shots came from the back,” the interviewer asks Davis in the BET video. “Who shot Tupac?”
“Going to keep it for the code of the streets,” Davis said. “It just came from the backseat, bro.”
The indictment comes two months after Las Vegas police raided his wife’s home July 17 in neighboring Henderson. Documents said police were looking for items “concerning the murder of Tupac Shakur.”
Police reported collecting multiple computers, a cellphone and hard drive, a Vibe magazine that featured Shakur, several .40-caliber bullets, two “tubs containing photographs” and a copy of Davis’ 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
Police said during a press conference Friday that Davis’ own public admissions breathed new life into the case. Officials declined to mention specifics, saying only that Davis’ statements mirrored evidence obtained in the case.
In the book, Davis said he broke his silence over Tupac’s killing in 2010 during a closed-door meeting with federal and local authorities. At the time, he was 46 and facing life in prison on drug charges when he agreed to speak with the authorities.
“They promised they would shred the indictment and stop the grand jury if I helped them out,” he wrote.
He has described himself as one of the last living witnesses to the shooting.
Shakur was 25 when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting near the Las Vegas Strip on the night of Sept. 7, 1996. The rapper was in a BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars. They were waiting at a red light when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and gunfire erupted.
Shakur was shot multiple times and died a week later.
In 2018, after a cancer diagnosis, Davis admitted publicly in an interview for a BET show to being inside the Cadillac during the attack. He implicated his nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, saying he was one of two people in the back seat where the shots were fired.
The shooting happened shortly after a casino brawl earlier in the evening involving Anderson, Shakur and others.
Anderson denied any involvement in the Shakur shooting. He died two years later in a shooting in Compton, California.
Shakur’s death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained on the charts, with some 5 million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.
Shakur was feuding at the time with rap rival Biggie Smalls, also known as the Notorious B.I.G., who was fatally shot in March 1997. At the time, both rappers were in the middle of an East Coast-West Coast rivalry that primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s.
Greg Kading, a retired Los Angeles police detective who spent years investigating the Shakur killing and wrote a book about it, said he would not be surprised by Davis’s indictment and arrest.
“It’s so long overdue,” Kading told The Associated Press during a recent interview. “People have been yearning for him to be arrested for a long time. It’s never been unsolved in our minds. It’s been unprosecuted.”
Kading said he interviewed Davis in 2008 and 2009, during Los Angeles police investigations of the killings of Shakur in Las Vegas and the slaying of Biggie Smalls.
Kading said also that he talked with a Las Vegas police detective about the case, including after the SWAT raid in July at the home in Henderson.
The former Los Angeles police detective said he believed the investigation gained new momentum in recent years following Davis’s public descriptions of his role in the killing, including his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
“It’s those events that have given Las Vegas the ammunition and the leverage to move forward,” Kading said. “Prior to Keefe D’s public declarations, the cases were unprosecutable as they stood.”
“He put himself squarely in the middle of the conspiracy,” Kading said of Davis and the Shakur slaying. “He had acquired the gun, he had given the gun to the shooter and he had been present in the vehicle when they hunted down and located both Tupac and Suge (Knight).”
Kading noted that Davis is the last living person among the four people who were in the vehicle from which shots were fired at Shakur and rapper Marion “Suge” Knight. Others were Davis’s nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, Terrence “Bubble Up” Brown and DeAndre “Freaky” Smith.
“It’s a concerted effort of conspirators,” Kading said, adding that he believed that because the killing was premeditated Davis could face a first-degree murder charge.
“All the other direct conspirators or participants are all dead,” Kading said. “Keefe D is the last man standing among the individuals that conspired to kill Tupac.”
There is no statute of limitations for when prosecutors can file murder charges in Nevada. Police have never filed charges in connection with Shakur’s murder.
“The older your case gets as a prosecutor, the weaker your case gets,” former Clark County prosecutor Thomas Moskal said. “Witnesses, they go missing, they leave, they die, their memories fade. Evidence isn’t preserved. You can’t go back and now start retesting things from the crime scene. if something wasn’t done, it wasn’t done.”
Moskal said he expected prosecutors to use Davis’s own statements against him.
“They have his own statements saying he was there,” Moskal said. “He’s going to have to make the argument that either, ‘I wasn’t there and I lied the whole time’ or ‘I didn’t know what was going on and I lied the whole time.’ But how do you overcome that? Basically he would have to take that stand and say, ‘I lied before believe me now.’”
Davis is expected to appear in court in the next few days, District Attorney Steven Wolfson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.