Suge Knight

Kelly Jamerson Murder

An incident accounted by Wrightway Security’s off-duty police officers circulating the L.A.P.D. stations from a Death Row held private after-party event for the Soul Train awards in Los Angeles on March 14, 1995. At just after midnight at the El Ray Theatre in L.A.’s Wilshire District, held by Suge Knight with a sign outside the front entrance reading, “Death Row Private Party, Guest List Only.” Three working uniformed L.A.P.D. officers were called to a fight that broke out earlier in the evening as they were writing up the incident outside when they heard an eruption inside the theatre. They witnessed Crip banger, Kelly Jamerson get his head split open by a beer bottle as a group of Blood Pirus surrounded him and proceeded to beat the man viciously to death. By the time the officers arrived to interrupt the carnage the man was dying from the injuries sustained including a brain haemorrhage. Approximately four hundred guests fled the building in various states of inebriation

The only available credible witness was a bartender who claimed Jamerson was arguing with four black males. He stated one of the suspects was a member of Death Row Records described as 6’4”, 390 pounds with a short fade angled haircut. He saw him strike Jamerson with a Miller beer bottle over the head. It was early in the AM when police investigators arrived at the scene. By midday the victim was pronounced dead. Jamerson’s body was so badly beaten he lad lacerations, abrasions, swelling and bruising to the head, torso and extremities making it almost impossible for an autopsy to reveal the single blow as the cause of death.

The mood of the party went from celebratory to violent when Death Row star, Snoop Dogg instigated gang-related hostilities as he took the stage to throw up his Rolling 20 Crips affiliation in gang-sign toward the Piru Bloods who dominated the theatre and were associated with Suge Knight. In retaliation, rapper D.J. Quik threw back his Piru sign back at opposing Crips onstage. Quik who had suffered a broken jaw a few year prior by the same Crip set was looking to settle his score publicly. Quik picked up a chair and smashed the Crip to the ground as his accompanied Bloods began bashing the man with a champagne bottle. Quik broke away from the beating to take the stage where he addressed Suge Knight. Suge left and Quik continued fighting. He immediately initiated an attack on Kelly Jamerson who fled into a group of Bloods who knocked him down with a beer bottle briefly before murdering him. Later records show the assailants were not working for D.J. Quik but were Suge’s Piru thugs, Jai Hassan Jamaal ‘Jake The Violator’ Robles, Altron ‘Buntry’ McDonald, Ronald ‘Ram’ Lamb and close homeboys of Quik’s, Crawford ‘Hi-C’ Wilkinson, Bernard ‘Zeek’ Thomas and Donell ‘Donzel’ Smith. The notorious members of Mob Pirus employed by Death Row for various ‘secret service’ type tasks for Suge Knight.

The Crips believed they were safe at the event as they were guests of Snoop Dogg’s. However, a personal friend of Compton rapper, D.J. Quik gave police eye witness accounts of the attacks but stressed the importance of remaining anonymous. He stated not only is his life at risk, if they knew he was talking to the police his whole family would be killed on the words of Suge Knight. The witness said, “You do not realise how powerful Suge Knight is. Going up against Suge or any of his people is like going up against the mafia. It’s a death sentence.”

MOB Piru

By this stage, proving that bad publicity created positive energy in the rap business, Suge openly claimed his allegiance to the Leudis Park Compton Piru Bloods gang of his native Compton. Suge had assimilated and embraced the Piru culture, as if making up for his teenage years spent avoiding any commitment to gang-life due to a promising athletic pursuit. Standing at six feet three inches of a man who lifts incredible weights for two hours daily, a 315 pound physique draped in deep blood-red tailored suits and shining gold Death Row emblem falling from a chain rope, smoking huge Cuban cigars presented an unmistakable view of a notorious west coast lord of criminal enterprise.

He surrounded himself in his gang’s company at almost every social occasion as well as being almost residents at the Can-Am studios. Effectively Suge had established his own crew of Bloods he named M.O.B.,(Member Of Bloods) Suge employed his homies to act as integral players in Suge’s personal business affairs. The F.B.I. had begun surveillance over Suge’s affairs suspecting him and his record company being involved in drug trafficking and guns trading from international connections to street distribution. To encapsulate Suge Knight’s iconic gangster stature he had employed personal bodyguards and security from Wrightway Security managed by his friend, ex Compton police officer Reggie White but unofficially owned and controlled by Suge Knight. Wrightway which was rife with off-duty L.A.P.D. officers moonlighting for extra pay checks by working directly under Death Row. On the face of their employment they were personal bodyguards for the Death Row stars, behind closed doors they provided Suge with inside police information and lookouts for his enterprising underworld drugs and arms trade. Fronting the offices were recording studios for west coast rap’s brightest talents, overshadowing the private matters of Suge’s illegal gang activity. Finances obtained from record sales were injected back into the Compton gangs he controlled and quadrupled on the street.

The Can-Am studios, situated on Oxnard Avenue, Tarzana which became Death Row’s main place of business, was situated in the quaint, mainly Mexican and middle-class white inhabited area in the San Fernando Valley section. An unlikely environment in which to find the Death Row family at work, Suge appreciated this anonymity the location provided. The building of Can-Am studios was greeted by a lobby with metal detectors and guards manning security personnel lists mainly consisting of hardcore Blood members who were allowed guns and drugs inside the studios. With the exception of artists, everybody was screened before entering. A second security room had the entire building captured on CCTV. Suge’s private office was decorated in blood-red, with a huge centred, white Death Row badge on the red carpet. The sofa, all chairs and cabinets were deep red complete with six television sets capturing every square inch of his recording studios. Also Suge kept a loyal German Sheppard companion who answers to the name of Damu (Swahili for blood) who is trained to attack on command and a sparkling trophy-like aquarium housed with ferocious piranha fed daily with rats. When one reporter asked a question Suge found offensive he dragged the man over to the fish tank and threatened to let them eat his face. This over-emphasised the identity of Death Row who was by now clearly becoming a strong Blood Piru empire of industry. Affiliated Death Row stars such as Snoop Dogg and his Long Beach Dogg Pound homies sometimes felt intimidated by the strong Blood influence in Death Row and at party events. Snoop and his blue-ragged Long Beach Crips were quite often outnumbered by Mob Pirus. This however did not stop the Crips from representing in the face of death.

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