A man who has spoken publicly for years about having witnessed the drive-by shooting of the rapper Tupac Shakur from inside the car where the shots were fired was indicted on a murder charge in Las Vegas on Friday, more than 25 years after the killing became a defining tragedy in the history of hip-hop.
The man, Duane Keith Davis, has said in interviews and a memoir that he was in the passenger seat of the white Cadillac that pulled up near the vehicle holding Shakur on a night in 1996, after a Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon prizefight in Las Vegas. Shot four times, the 25-year-old rapper died at a hospital less than a week later.
A grand jury in Clark County indicted Davis on one count of murder with use of a deadly weapon and with the intent to promote, further or assist a criminal gang, a prosecutor said in court on Friday. The prosecutor said Davis was in custody.
Talk of the case was revived in July, when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department executed a search warrant at a home in Henderson, Nev., that was connected to Davis.
Davis, a former gang leader who goes by the name Keffe D, or sometimes Keefe D, recounted the events leading up to and after the shooting in his 2019 memoir, describing a gang dispute that escalated after Shakur and his associates beat up Davis’s nephew, Orlando Anderson, following the boxing match at the MGM Grand hotel.
“Them jumping on my nephew gave us the ultimate green light to do something,” Davis said in the memoir, “Compton Street Legend.” “Tupac chose the wrong game to play.”
Davis avoided directly naming the person who opened fire in recent interviews. But in a taped confession released by a former Los Angeles Police Department detective who investigated Shakur’s killing, Davis told the police that it had been Anderson, his nephew, who was known as Baby Lane.
Anderson was questioned by officers investigating Shakur’s death but was killed in a shooting in 1998. Davis has said he is the only person still alive who was in the Cadillac that night.
In his memoir, Davis said that after the shooting, the men abandoned the car and walked back to the hotel, picking the vehicle up the next day and taking it back to California. It sat for a couple of days and was taken to be cleaned and painted before it was returned to the rental agency, Davis said. By that point it was “too late for any forensics to be accurate and reliable,” he noted.
Just five years into his career as a major-label solo artist when he was killed, Shakur had already become one of the most popular rap artists of the 1990s with albums such as “Me Against the World,” on which he rapped about a life imperiled by violence, and “All Eyez on Me,” one of the genre’s first double albums.
Immediately after Shakur’s death, there was a flurry of activity in the investigation. More than 20 people were arrested in connection with shootings that the police said were suspected to be gang-related attacks stemming from the rapper’s killing.
But as the years went on without any charges, Shakur’s death — combined with that of his rival, the Notorious B.I.G., six months later — fueled conspiracy theories and accusations that the police had not worked hard enough to bring the young Black artist’s killers to justice. The Las Vegas police have cited a lack of cooperation from people close to Shakur as a reason for the stalled investigation.