Notorious B.I.G. Murder Case: Finally Time for Answers?

A new search is on for the killer of rap star Notorious B.I.G., nine years after he was shot in Los Angeles.

But why now? It depends on whom you ask.

The Los Angeles Police Department said there is nothing special about the new seven-person task force formed to solve the 1997 crime, but others say the time is right to finally get some answers to rap's greatest mystery.

This new probe comes after a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the rapper's mother, Voletta Wallace, and other relatives, who've said that Los Angeles police officers were involved in the killing.

A civil lawsuit filed by the Wallace family ended in a mistrial last year when it was revealed that a police detective intentionally hid statements made by a jailhouse informant that linked B.I.G.'s slaying to two former officers.

If the task force of six LAPD detectives and one Los Angeles Sheriff's Office deputy finds new evidence, it could prove important in helping police fight the lawsuit.

Despite the time elapsed since the crime and the fact that no new evidence is known to have surfaced, police deny the case is receiving undue attention.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we're investigating it as we would any other crime," LAPD spokesman Sgt. Lee Sands told ABC News.

Notorious B.I.G. -- also known as "Biggie Smalls" but born Christopher Wallace -- was fatally shot on March 9, 1997, after leaving a music industry party at a Los Angeles museum.

The 24-year-old was waiting at a stoplight in a sport utility vehicle when the shooter came alongside in a dark Chevrolet Impala and opened fire before speeding away.

His slaying came just six months after Tupac Shakur, Wallace's main rap rival, was shot to death on the Las Vegas Strip.

With numerous possible conspiracy theories surrounding the Wallace crime, the LAPD force faces the challenge of confirming which one fits.

Theories Abound

A leading theory of investigators, according to gang members who spoke to the Los Angeles Times, is that Wallace was killed by a member of Compton's Southside Crips gang as part of an East Coast vs. West Coast rap feud linked to Shakur's slaying.

They told the newspaper that Wallace had promised $1 million to the Crips for killing Shakur. When they received only $50,000, the gang killed him, too, the gang members said.

Another theory alleges that Marion "Suge" Knight, the owner of Death Row Records -- Shakur's record label at the time -- hired a Bloods gang member to kill Wallace in retaliation for his client's death, unnamed law enforcement sources told the L.A. Times. Knight, who declared bankruptcy earlier this year to avoid Death Row Records being placed in receivership, denies any involvement in the slaying.

LAPD officials declined to expand on these reports to ABC News, citing the "ongoing" nature of the case.

However, experts not connected to the case were more willing to offer explanations as to why police would have chosen this time to search for new evidence.

"I think the LAPD have re-opened the case because the empire of Suge Knight has fallen and witnesses are now prepared to testify against him," Nick Broomfield, who directed the 2002 documentary "Biggie and Tupac," told ABC News. "I am happy for ... Biggie's mum that justice might finally be done."

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