October 24, 1997
Metro closes probe into leaked Shakur photo
By Ed Koch
LAS VEGAS SUN
Metro Police have closed an internal investigation into who
leaked a postmortem photo of Tupac Shakur to a SUN reporter who
used it in her book about the dead rapper/actor.
Although at least nine employees of Metro and the Clark County
coroner's office were questioned, there was no evidence to
support who did it, so no one was charged with any crime, Metro
Undersheriff Richard Winget said Thursday.
"Our concern was that because the National Enquirer had
offered $100,000 for a photo of Shakur (dead) that one of the
employees used county property to take the picture (and profit
from it)," Winget said. Such a situation could have resulted
in embezzlement charges, he said.
Winget said County Coroner Ron Flud had requested the
investigation shortly after the photo wound up in "The
Killing of Tupac Shakur" by SUN reporter Cathy Scott. The
book was released on Sept. 7, a year after Shakur was shot near
the Las Vegas Strip after attending a championship boxing match.
The investigation centered on two general assignment
detectives, at least three coroner employees and as many as four
other Metro employees, Winget said.
It was learned that two general assignment detectives had
taken Polaroid photos of Shakur at the morgue for use in a police
training book, Winget said. Those pictures were removed from the
book and destroyed and the officers were cleared of any
"The potential for abuse was far greater than the value
of the photos for training purposes," Winget said.
He declined to release the names of the detectives or the
other seven people who were questioned during the 1 1/2-month
investigation. Winget said they all denied giving a photo to
Unless further evidence comes to light, the case is closed,
Scott was not interviewed by police.
Flud has said the photo, which shows Shakur dissected on a
table at the morgue, is not an official coroner or police photo.
Metro Internal Affairs Bureau Lt. John Alamshaw also said it
appears that it was not an official photo.
Neither of them, however, denied that it was an authentic
photo of Shakur's body.
Scott, who denied paying for the photo, has declined to
comment on the police investigation, referring all inquiries to
the publisher of her book.
"I don't think people care whether the photo came from
Pluto," said Anthony Curtis, owner of Las Vegas-based
Huntington Press, which published the book. "People just
care that the photo exists."
Curtis maintains that the gruesome photo was not published
just for shock value, but to stem the usual rumors following the
untimely death of a famous person that he is still alive.
"We still get calls from people who read the book and say
they still don't believe Shakur is dead," Curtis said.
"It is a rumor that just won't go away."
Although Curtis maintains he does not know who gave Scott the
photo, he says he is convinced it was obtained by legal means.
In related news, all 25,000 copies of the book's first
printing have been distributed and the second printing of 25,000
copies will begin soon to meet back orders, Curtis said, noting
the book has sold well in Southern California.
The book will soon go on sale in New York, where 4,000 copies
have been ordered. To become a best seller, a book has to sell
well in selected major outlets in the New York market, Curtis
said, noting that inquiries about the book have come from as far
away as Europe.
"The book has got legs, now we are waiting to see if it
will sprout wings," Curtis said.
The Shakur book also recently became the No. 1 seller in the
history of the small Las Vegas-based publishing company,
outselling in 30 days the previous record-holder "Bargain
City," by Curtis. That book about Las Vegas was published in
1993 and sold 19,000 copies.
The success of the Shakur book comes on the heels of the
recently released motion picture, "Gang Related," the
last film Shakur made before his death on Sept. 13, 1996, at a
Las Vegas hospital, where he had undergone surgery on his bullet
wounds. The slaying remains unsolved.