Bullet Wound to Chest Killed Notorious B.I.G., According to Autopsy Report Released 15 Years After Slaying

The rapper, also known as Christopher Wallace, was killed in 1997 in one of L.A.'s most infamous unsolved cases

By Jason Kandel
|  Friday, Dec 7, 2012  |  Updated 11:58 PM PDT
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LAPD unsealed the autopsy report for Notorious B.I.G 15 years after the rap star was gunned down in Miracle Mile. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2012.

Beverly White

LAPD unsealed the autopsy report for Notorious B.I.G 15 years after the rap star was gunned down in Miracle Mile. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2012.

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The rapper Notorious B.I.G. died from a fatal bullet wound to the abdomen and chest while sitting in the passenger seat of his cousin’s Chevy Suburban after a party at a popular Los Angeles car museum, according to a newly released autopsy report more than 15 years after the unsolved slaying.

Christopher Wallace Autopsy Report

Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Christopher Wallace, was a passenger in the front seat of his a Chevy Suburban leaving the Petersen Automotive Museum after midnight on March 9, 1997 when someone in a black Chevrolet Impala SS drove up at a stoplight and fired multiple rounds.

Wallace was hit multiple times and died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He was 24 years old.

Four bullets pierced his body, including to the abdomen, chest, left arm, back and thigh. It was the bullet wound to the chest and abdomen that killed him, according to the autopsy report.

Wallace, who weighed nearly 400 pounds, also suffered from morbid obesity and had a history with pulmonary and cerebral edema, gallstones and other ailments, the autopsy report said.

No alcohol or drugs were detected in his system, according to a toxicology report.

The news comes more than 15 years after the highly publicized death. The LAPD released its security hold on the autopsy report this week, according to Chief Coroner’s Investigator Craig Harvey.

"Basically it was just a strategy to draw interest in the case, get more tips," said Officer Cleon Joseph. "It's ongoing."

According to her lawyer, Wallace's mother was shocked by the report's release. In a phone call late Friday, Perry Sanders Jr. called it "inappropriate" and unlikely to generate clues.

The death sparked numerous theories about who was responsible and the motivations behind the shooting.

The book "LAbyrinth" theorized that Marion "Suge" Knight, co-founder of Death Row Records and an alleged Bloods affiliate, conspired with LAPD officer David Mack and an alleged Death Row security employee to kill Wallace and Tupac Shakur as part of a fictitious bi-coastal rap rivalry.

In March 2005, the relatives of Wallace filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Los Angeles that was dismissed. 

The case was largely based on the evidence championed by former LAPD Detective Russell Poole who claimed the LAPD had sufficient evidence to arrest the assailant but failed to use it. Wallace was a was a central figure in the East Coast hip hop scene.

His double-disc set "Life After Death" hit #1 on the U.S. album charts 15 days after his death. MTV ranked him #3 on its list of the greatest rappers of all time. He has certified sales of 17 million units in the United States.

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