LAS VEGAS (AP) — One of the last living witnesses to the fatal drive-by shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas was charged with murder Friday in the 1996 killing, a long-awaited breakthrough in a case that has frustrated investigators and fascinated the public.
A Nevada grand jury indicted Duane “Keffe D” Davis on one count of murder with a deadly weapon, Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo announced in court Friday.
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 from which the gunfire erupted during the September 1996 drive-by shooting.
DiGiacomo described Davis as the “on-ground, on-site commander” who “ordered the death” of Shakur, who was killed at 25.
The charges were revealed hours after Davis, 60, was arrested this morning while on a walk near his home in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, according to DiGiacomo.
In mid-July, Las Vegas police raided Davis' home. They were looking for items “concerning the murder of Tupac Shakur,” according to the search warrant. They collected 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’ memoir.
“It has often been said that justice delayed is justice denied,” District Attorney Steve Wolfson said after the hearing in a brief comment to the AP. “In this case, justice has been delayed, but justice won’t be denied.” A grand jury has been evidence in the case for several months.
Clark County District Judge Jerry Wiese has denied Davis bail.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Davis has an attorney who can comment on his behalf. Davis hasn’t responded to multiple phone and text messages from The Associated Press seeking comment since the house raid.
Messages left Friday for his wife, Paula Clemons, also weren’t returned.
On September 7, 1996, Shakur 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 near the Las Vegas Strip when a white Cadillac pulled up next to them and gunfire erupted. Shakur was shot multiple times and died a week later.
The rapper’s death came as his fourth solo album, “All Eyez on Me,” remained on the charts, with some five million copies sold. Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, Shakur is still largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.
In his memoir, Davis said he was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac and had slipped the gun used in the killing into the backseat, from where he said the shots were fired.
Shakur was feuding at the time with rap rival Biggie Smalls, 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.