LAPD police cruiser. Photo courtesy the LAPD
LAPD police cruiser. Photo courtesy the LAPD

A retired Los Angeles Police detective who handled the murder case of rapper Biggie Smalls has died from a suspected heart attack.

Russell Poole collapsed while meeting with detectives about a cold case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told the Los Angeles Times. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died, the coroner’s office said.

Poole worked on Smalls’ murder case for about a year, according to Times archives.

The 24-year-old New York rapper, born Christopher Wallace and known also as Notorious B.I.G., was shot to death while sitting in a car at a red light in Mid-Wilshire on March 9, 1997.

The rapper’s death spawned conspiracy theories, among them that it was somehow connected to the Las Vegas slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur six months earlier because they and their respective record companies were seen as rivals.

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, according to The Times.

Knight, who is in jail awaiting a possible murder trial in a separate incident, was never implicated in Wallace’s killing.

Times archives show Poole quit the police force in 1999 after a series of disputes over the direction of multiple investigations, including Wallace’s murder.

Both the Wallace and Shakur’s killings remain unresolved.

—City News Service

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