Weeks after Nipsey Hussle’s slaying, questions remain
Three weeks after Nipsey Hussle was fatally gunned down in Los Angeles, the community continues to mourn and seek answers.
As so often is the case, answers are elusive as an investigation into the 33-year-old rapper’s killing continues. Police have declined to divulge certain details they say could affect the outcome of the case against his alleged killer.
Still, those who grew up in the Crenshaw District that Nipsey loved and made a central theme in his music and business endeavors have questions — chief among them, why the woman who drove the rapper’s suspected killer remains free and why one of the men shot alongside Nipsey was arrested.
Here are answers to some of those questions:
Why was shooting victim arrested?
Eight days after Nipsey and two other men were shot in front of the rapper’s The Marathon clothing store in the Hyde Park neighborhood, police arrested one of the other shooting victims, Kerry Lathan.
The 56-year-old was released on parole seven months ago, after serving about 25 years for murder. He appeared in court Thursday for a petition of revocation, which generally involves an attempt to revoke someone’s probation or parole. His case was dismissed, a court spokeswoman said, but the reason for his arrest and release both remain unclear.
The Los Angeles Police Department referred questions on Lathan’s arrest to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a spokesman for which told CNN the LAPD had instructed the department not to release any information on Lathan, including the reason for his arrest. The court spokeswoman said she could not go into detail on why he was arrested.
On Friday, CDCR spokesman Jeffrey Callison confirmed Lathan was accused of a parole violation, but after reviewing the incident, the department determined it was “technical violation” and requested the petition of revocation be dismissed.
CNN affiliate KABC and Lathan himself reported that he was arrested for associating with a gang member — that gang member being Nipsey Hussle, who was a member of the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips.
Community activists were angry the shooting victim was arrested on such an allegation given that Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and LAPD Commissioner Steve Soboroff praised Nipsey’s efforts to help mitigate gang violence.
Lathan, in an interview with VladTV, said he initially had trouble getting answers on why he’d been arrested but was eventually told it was because he was accused of consorting with gang members, prompting him to ask, “Now you want to put me back in prison for coming in contact with a gang member, who’s really a voice of peace?”
Lathan, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot, said he didn’t know Nipsey well, but the rapper had helped him out with new clothes in the past and he was talking to him March 31, the day he was killed, about getting a new shirt before visiting the family of a friend whose father had died. The shooting came minutes later, Lathan told VladTV. He described the other man injured in the shooting as his nephew.
Lauren Noriega, who represents Lathan, could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday, but she told KABC her client’s contact with Nipsey was accidental.
What’s happening with the ‘getaway driver?’
Moore told reporters after the shooting that the suspect, Eric Holder, shot Nipsey and the other two men before jumping into a waiting car driven by an unidentified woman.
Citing ABC News, CNN affiliate KABC reported that the woman turned herself in, spoke with detectives and was allowed to leave. She claimed she didn’t know what happened in the shooting, KABC reported.
She has not been arrested or publicly identified, the station reported.
Community leaders have been calling for her arrest since days after the shooting, CNN affiliate KSWB reported, and community activist Najee Ali has repeatedly told news outlets she needs to be held accountable.
“That woman is lying through her teeth. She’s the getaway driver in the murder of Nipsey Hussle. The only reason why she turned herself in two days later is because her face and his face was plastered all over social media,” he told KABC.
Following news of Lathan’s release from prison Saturday, Ali tweeted, “Mission accomplished. Now we need the getaway driver arrested in Nipsey’s murder.”
What was the motive for killing the rapper?
Police have implied that the shooting was not random but have yet to provide a motive for the attack. Holder and Nipsey knew each other, and the suspect had approached the rapper numerous times that Sunday afternoon, Moore told reporters.
On their final encounter, the chief said, Holder returned with a handgun and “purposely and repeatedly fired” at Nipsey, Lathan and the other man.
Despite Nipsey’s gang affiliation and that Holder is believed to be a gang member as well, Moore said the dispute between the men does not appear gang-related. He declined to name the gang to which police believe Holder belongs.
Surveillance video from the parking lot where Nipsey was shot showed the rapper casually talking with three other men in front of The Marathon store when a figure dressed in dark clothing approaches them and everyone scatters.
Two of the victims don’t get far. They fall to the ground. One of them, wearing a white hat and shirt, tries to get back up but promptly collapses, the video, which has no sound, shows.
Why didn’t Nipsey have security?
It would appear Nipsey knew that there were folks who wished to do him harm. Hours before he was killed, he tweeted, “Having strong enemies is a blessing.” It was not clear to what or to whom he was referring.
A few days before he was killed, Nipsey was in Inglewood to shoot a video for a song he performed with DJ Khaled and John Legend, according to the entertainers’ social media posts. According to TMZ, the production crew for the video was so concerned for Nipsey’s safety that it had 10 armed police officers on hand for protection. Again, no one has explained why.
Given the circumstances, many people have questioned why Nipsey was at The Marathon store without security.
His longtime bodyguard took to Instagram two days after Nipsey’s death to say he was leaving the profession.
“I got the Babies and L forever I’m done with all this S**t I retire from being a bodyguard I love you HUSSLE THA GREAT,” he wrote, referring to Nipsey’s longtime girlfriend, Lauren London.
What’s next in the investigation?
It remains unclear if Holder, 29, will be the only person arrested in connection with Nipsey’s killing. He is charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.
He is being held on $5 million bail and is scheduled to be back in court May 10.
CNN’s attempts to reach Holder’s first attorney were unsuccessful. According to local reports, he is now represented by Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case.
Darden entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf earlier this month, CNN affiliate KCAL reported. Holder, who has reportedly received threats since the shooting, arrived in court April 5 under heavy guard. Darden declined to answer questions about the case or how he was retained, KCAL reported.
CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report.