In a significant development in the long-standing investigation into the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur it was announced that Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder with the use of a deadly weapon.
Las Vegas authorities made the announcement, stating that Davis, aged 60, was taken into custody in Las Vegas on a Friday morning. This arrest came after his wife’s Henderson residence was searched in July 2023 as part of the ongoing investigation into the shooting.
This is big news for fans of the rapper who in a fairly short career had a huge impact on popular culture and contimues to have a huge fan base among POC around the world.
His music resonated particularly well with South African youth of the 90’s in Black and Coloured communinities who have grown up in the Apartheid era and could easily identify with his views on systemic racism as well as the opinons on societal issues that Tupac expressed in his lyrics. Notably the slain star even has South African fans among those who are considered to be ‘Born Frees’ meaning they were born after the Apartheid era.
Among those who know the life of growing up in a township there remains a strange affinity, a somewhat familiar understanding for his duality of being a gangster while also being a social justice advocate; this without necessarily condonig the plague of gangsterism in our own townships from Soweto to Westbury or Khayelitsha to Manenberg,
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in Harlem, New York, on 16 June1971 to single his mom, former Black Panther member, Afeni Shakur who later moved him and his sister to Baltimore where Tupac attended the Baltimore School for the Arts.
They then moved to Marin City, California but after all of their moving around and despite being born on the East Coast, Tupac considered Oakland California to be his home town.
“I give all my love to Oakland, if I’ma claim somewhere I’ma claim Oakland, even if I don’t live there,” Tupac once aid in 1993.
Tragedy struck when Tupac Shakur was shot on 7 September 1996 after leaving a boxing match on the iconic Las Vegas Strip. He died in hospital six days later.
Shakur’s untimely death at the young age of 25 has been shrouded in conspiracy theories and the subject of a decades-long investigation.
Tupac was struck down while his life and his illustrious career was in its prime.
Using his music to comment on social issues, with his introspective lyrics exploring topics like racism, social justice, poverty, violence and gangsterism, Tupac, whose first album ‘2Pacalypse Now’ debuted in 1991, had a total of 11 platinum rated albums, four of which were released during his short 5 year career and 7 more platinum abums that were released in the years following his death.
The rapper was also a poet and actor who starred in films like Above The Rim & Poetic Justice alongside Janet Jackson.
Tupac was and remains an icon to rap music fans across the world and his lyrics have even become study material for various courses at universities like Berkely,to Boston to Harvard but until now it seemed like there was never going to be any breakthrough in the investigatiom of Tupac’s murder 27 years ago.
During a press conference held on Friday 29 September 2023, authorities portrayed Davis as the mastermind behind a plot to assassinate Tupac Shakur in apparent retaliation for an attack on Davis’s nephew. Davis himself has consistently maintained that he was present at the scene of the crime, claiming he was in the front seat of the white Cadillac that pulled up beside Shakur’s car, from which shots were fired from the back seat, ultimately claiming the life of the talented musician. Shakur was struck by four bullets and succumbed to his injuries six days later.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Kevin McMahill, during the press conference, noted, “For 27 years, the family of Tupac Shakur has been waiting for justice.” He added, “The investigation started on the night of September 7th, 1996. It is far from over. It has taken countless hours, really decades, of work by the men and women of our homicide section to get to where we are today.”
WATCH Presser: Tupac Shakur murder suspect arrested
Jason Johansson, the police department’s homicide lieutenant, shed light on the nature of the murder, describing it as a “retaliatory” act following a conflict between two gangs based in Compton, California. Shakur and Marion “Suge” Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records, had affiliations with the Mob Piru gang in Compton, while Davis was associated with the Southside Compton Crips, as detailed by Johansson.
The circumstances that led to the tragic event began when Shakur had come to Las Vegas to attend a boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel. Members of the Southside Compton Crips, including Davis and his nephew Orlando Anderson, were also in attendance.
Johansson showed hotel surveillance footage during the press conference, which depicted members of Death Row Records encountering Orlando Anderson near an elevator bank inside the MGM. At that moment, a physical altercation ensued, with Shakur and Knight visible among those involved.
Johansson stated, “Little did anyone know that it is this incident right here that would ultimately lead to the retaliatory shooting and death of Tupac Shakur.”
Subsequently, both groups departed from the hotel, with Shakur and his associates heading to a post-fight after-party at a local nightclub. Upon learning about the assault on Orlando Anderson, Davis reportedly began devising a plan to acquire a firearm and retaliate against Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur, according to Johansson.
Following the procurement of a weapon from a close associate, Davis, along with Terrence Brown, Deandre Smith, and Orlando Anderson, got into a white Cadillac. Johansson stated, “At some point in time, as they were in the white Cadillac, Mr. Davis took the gun that he had obtained and provided it to the passengers in the rear seat of the vehicle.” The indictment did not specify whether it was Anderson or Smith, who were both seated in the back seat,pulled the trigger.
The group located the black BMW carrying Shakur and Knight, opened fire on them through the car window, and immediately fled the scene, according to authorities.
Johansson underlined Davis’s role as the mastermind behind the crime, stating, “Duane Davis was the shot-caller for this group of individuals that committed this crime. He orchestrated the plan that was carried out to commit this crime.”
Notably, all the other individuals associated with the crime have since passed away, including Orlando Anderson, who denied his involvement in Tupac’s murder prior to his own death in a gang-related shooting in 1998.
Johansson pointed out that law enforcement had been aware of the basic sequence of events that transpired that night but had previously lacked sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
The investigation to resolve the decades-old case gained momentum in 2018, accordingto Johansson who highlighted that Davis’s admissions regarding the crime played a pivotal role in advancing the investigation.
During the search of Davis’s wife’s residence in July 2023, authorities discovered a memoir authored by Davis, in which he recounted his experiences in the street gang milieu and the events surrounding Tupac Shakur’s murder.
In the memoir, Davis claimed to be one of only two living witnesses to the shooting, the other being Suge Knight, who is presently serving time in prison for manslaughter in an unrelated case.
When asked who among the four men in the car was responsible for firing the fatal shots, Davis responded, “Going to keep it for the code of the streets. It just came from the back seat, bro.”
It is worth noting that Davis had previously confessed to the crime in 2009; however, this information could not be used due to a proffer agreement, as stated by former police detective Greg Kading, who had investigated the case.
A proffer agreement typically involves a suspect offering potentially useful information in an investigation, with the understanding that their statements will not be used against them as evidence.
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Johansson emphasized that the renewed focus on the case in 2018 was a pivotal moment, marking a potentially final opportunity to successfully solve the case and proceed to lay criminal charges.
Tupac’s stepbrother, Mopreme Shakur, who is also a rapper, reacted to the news of Davis’s arrest with mixed emotions, describing it as “bittersweet.” He expressed the need for answers, stating, “For us, this is not over. We want to know why, and if there were any accomplices.”
Fans around the world, including the many in South Africa, will be watching developments closely to see whether there will be a successful prosecution.
One could say that it’s Poetic Justic that a memoir written by suspect Duane Davis detailing Tupac’s murder led to his arrest and indictment.
Whatever the outcome, we are sure that there will still be continued speculation for decades to come as to whether there is a deeper conspiracy in the killing of Tupac Amaru Shakur.