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A Nevada grand jury indicts witness in killing of Tupac Shakur

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Las Vegas Police have arrested a man prosecutors suspect of organizing the 1996 killing of Tupac Shakur. The rapper was 25 years old when, after leaving a Vegas casino, a white Cadillac pulled up next to Shakur's car and opened fire. The case seemed to go cold until Las Vegas police executed a search warrant back in July at a home connected to Duane "Keefe D" Davis. Now authorities are accusing Davis of being, quote, "the shot caller" that night. He was indicted on a murder charge and is due in court this week. We spoke with Joel Anderson about the Skakur case back in July. He's a staff writer at Slate and hosted a season of the podcast "Slow Burn" that focused on the murder of Shakur. He began with some context about Davis.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JOEL ANDERSON: OK, so we can start with Keefe D, otherwise known by his government name, Duane Keith Davis. He was a big-time drug dealer in South Central LA and the Compton area, and he was one of the, you know, OG South Side Crips from that time. He was the uncle of Orlando Anderson, another South Side Crip, who is the man who got into a fight with Tupac in a Vegas casino after a Mike Tyson fight. It wasn't long after that fight that they had in the casino that Tupac is shot to death.

RASCOE: There is a very famous video of Tupac and his entourage getting into it with Orlando Anderson at the MGM. That fight has been seen and known for a very long time, right?

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Yeah. And if you think about it in the moment, it's sort of remarkable. Tupac was not a gangster.

RASCOE: Yeah.

ANDERSON: But he injected himself into a gang fight that night, which is how things seem to have went pretty deadly pretty quickly.

RASCOE: So in 2018, Davis, the uncle of Orlando Anderson, gave an interview for a BET show where he admitted to being in the front seat of the Cadillac that pulled up next to Shakur's car and said his nephew, Orlando Anderson, was one of the people in the backseat where the shots were fired from. Now, Anderson died in 1998. So what do you make of his uncle's comments to BET? I mean, we have to be careful here, but it sounds like he's walking up to the line of saying, yeah, we was there, and we did it, or, I know who did it, right?

ANDERSON: Oh, it'd be fair in this instance to call Keefe D a habitual line-stepper. Like, I mean, not only...

RASCOE: OK, OK.

ANDERSON: ...Has he crept up to the line, but he's crossed over it a number of times. I mean, he's written his own book, "Compton Street Legend," in which he said that he and his nephew were in the car. He's given interviews, many of them on YouTube. That's what he's been doing for the last 27 years. And it seems like maybe it's caught up with him.

RASCOE: Why do you think it's taken so long for the police to even make some type of advance in this case?

ANDERSON: Well, I mean, I think there's a couple of things. One is that, you know, I mean, without being too explicit about it, this is a young Black man, right? And so Vegas didn't have a lot of incentive to look into the case, for one, because that really could have affected a trial. Let's say a murder trial happens about Tupac in the wake of that. I mean, think about how that might have affected the tourism industry in Las Vegas, something that they've sort of tried to struggle with for years about, hey, we want to make this a safe place.

But also, the other thing is that most of the people - the person that's directly responsible for Tupac's death, is dead - more than likely, allegedly - Orlando Anderson. And everybody else in that car except for Keefe D on that night - they're dead, too. So the police really had no incentive to make a case here because there's nobody to throw in prison, really. Anybody who hasn't fallen victim to conspiracy theories has always sort of known that Keefe D and Orlando Anderson were involved in Tupac's death in one way or another.

RASCOE: That's Slate's Joel Anderson. He hosted Season 3 of the podcast "Slow Burn." Thank you so much for joining us.

ANDERSON: Oh, my pleasure. Any time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.