The Suge Knight Trial: The Mysteries of 1 Oak

1-Oak-Shooting-1

Things have been moving along in Suge World. After the bombshell motion accusing everyone and their mother of conspiracy (which was slapped down the other day btw), Suge appeared in court – this was April 21st – and apropos of nothing, started talking directly to Judge Coen, not through his lawyer, not about points of law, just a venting of emotion and urgency. “You should run for President!” he kept saying, along with lots of stuff about jailhouse informants and dark conspiracies within the Sheriff’s department. I’ll tell you more about that in another post.

For now, I want to break down what happened at 1 Oak. Because the ticking bomb in Thaddeus’s epic Motion to Unseal was the charge that a Sheriff’s Deputy helped gunmen attempt to murder the Sugar Bear at the 1 Oak nightclub in West Hollywood. You may have seen the headlines: “Suge Knight Claims Dr. Dre Tried to Have Him Killed – And the Cops Were In On It” (Daily Beast). Well, I was on the inside of all this stuff, going back nearly a year now.

But before I get to all that, a quick refresher.

It’s after 1am on August 24th, 2014 at a pre-VMA party hosted by Chris Brown, and the club is filled to capacity. In the middle is Katt Williams, the comedian, who allegedly calls Suge to the club on a pretext that’s unclear. Suge allegedly has the job of ‘minding’ Katt, what with Katt being bipolar and a tad unpredictable (here he is fighting a 15 year old). This, according to Toi, Suge’s fiancé.

chris-brown-bw  suge-knight-bw  katt-williams-bw

Anyway, Suge says ‘sure, I’ll come down, I need to talk to Chris Brown anyway.’ He wants to smooth over some beef with people close to Brown. So he shows up, has a chat with Brown who’s and as he walks away, two gunmen open fire – in the middle of a crowded nightclub – hitting the big man six times. It’s mayhem and screaming, everyone scrambling for the exits. And yet, in all this, Suge manages to crawl to safety, eventually making it outside, covered in blood, where the police detain him in the back of a cop car assuming he was a suspect. The only reason he survives is because he turned his body to the side and the bullets went through his outer flesh rather than piercing his internal organs.

When I wrote about this for my Esquire story, no one mentioned a Sheriff being involved – and I talked to Toi, Suge’s fiancé, Thaddeus and Suge’s former lawyer Matt Fletcher, as well as several other off the record sources. A story was emerging, but I couldn’t publish anything – it was all hearsay. But now, that’s all changed. Thaddeus has made it all public record, accusing all kinds of people of all kinds of crimes. And among them is a Sheriff, whose name I first heard last July.

Here’s how it unfolded.

According to Toi, Suge was in his hospital bed after 1 Oak – with Toi at his side – when the investigating Sheriffs, Richard Biddle and Barry Hall, came by to show them both security video footage of the shooting. It was so clear that she had the same security system installed at the gym she owns in Sherman Oaks. They asked Suge to identify the shooters, and he refused. But Barry Hall called her later to say that they’d located one of them – he’d been holed up at a downtown apartment, leaving only to get cigarettes and a bite to eat. The cops nabbed him on one of these excursions and found him packing. He had to be, he said, because Big Bad Suge Knight was after him for the 1 Oak shooting – even though he had nothing to do with it! The cops checked his gun, and it didn’t match the one used in the shootings, and so, Toi told me, they let him go. The guy on the security camera footage who was opening fire in a crowded nightclub? They let him walk.

Thaddeus’s motion names that alleged shooter on page 8:

“[Sheriff Richard] Biddle informed Knight that the Sheriffs Dept detained a man named Tee-Money who claimed to be a shooter at 1 Oak. Biddle informed Knight that the gunman stated that Dr Dre had paid him and a friend $50,000 to kill Knight. The Sheriff’s Dept later inexplicably released Tee-Money from custody.”

So – who’s Tee-Money? Could it be this guy: Te-Money (left), an associate of Abou “Bu” Thiam (center), the brother of Akon (right) and former manager of Chris Brown?

Te-Money  Bu-Thiam  akon

The conspiracy that Suge alleges is that Dr Dre is out to kill him and it’s not clear how Dre is connected to these guys. But sources close to Knight have told me that Bu Thiam and Knight have had a beef going back several years now. In 2009, Knight was beaten up by members of Akon’s security team in Scottsdale, Arizona. And it all came to the fore just weeks before 1 Oak when Knight went to visit Chris Brown in a Los Angeles studio and got into a fight with one of Brown’s associates. Was it Bu? The fight resulted in a death threat against Suge, which he heard about through the grapevine. And apparently, his future shooters successfully stalked him at Hollywood Hookah, just days before 1 Oak. That was why Knight went to talk to Chris Brown, to ask him to squash this death threat if he could.

Just to be clear – all of this is according to “sources close to Knight”. And it’s all very one sided. Beyond these allegations from Knight, I have no other evidence as yet. From what I can tell Bu Thiam is a successful music industry executive, the former head of A&R at Def Jam, and currently “the boss” on the Oxygen reality show, “Like A Boss”. His brother Akon is beloved for pledging to bring electricity to 600 million people in Africa. And Te-Money – I don’t know about him, but I’ve emailed him for a response to these charges. No response yet.

But I know what you’re thinking – what about this Sheriff, right? Bad lieutenant! OK, OK, I’m getting there.

It was July that Thaddeus called me, all excited. Mesereau was on the case, and one of the investigators they were using – whose name I can’t mention – had been told by a source within the Sheriff’s Dept that a Deputy named “Boyd” had been recently suspended for his involvement in the 1 Oak shooting. The word was that he’d been seen on the club’s security video letting the shooters in, and then later that night on the cameras at LAX airport, dropping them off, and giving them a bro-hug – helping them flee the country essentially.

Thaddeus didn’t know Boyd’s first name. But he knew that he worked at the San Fernando Courthouse, so I called one day: “Can I speak to Deputy Boyd?” And the woman who answered was like, “Oh Henry? He doesn’t work here anymore. I don’t know where he went…” I tracked down his salary information as a public servant – Henry A. Boyd – and I told Thaddeus.

And not long afterwards, another source emerged talking about a rogue Sheriff at 1 Oak. Only this time, the source was dead.

Russell-Poole

The man above is Russell Poole, an ex-LAPD investigator who had worked on the Biggie Smalls case back in the day. He was booted out of the LAPD, reportedly for exposing police corruption, but he never gave up on those cases, and in recent years, his investigations led him not to the LAPD but to the troubled Sheriff’s department. He had a wildly convoluted conspiracy that’s far too complicated to get into here, and he found an author, Michael Douglas Carlin, to collaborate with on two books over the last two years, exposing the Sheriff’s corruption, and claiming to solve both the Tupac and Biggie murders.

According to Carlin, Poole knew about Boyd. And on August 19th, he took this and his other findings to the Sheriff headquarters in Monterey Park to try to convince them to drop the charges against Suge. Much better to use Suge as a witness to solve these historic murders, he argued, and clear out some bad apples from the Sheriff’s Department in the process. But – and this story just keeps getting stranger doesn’t it? – Poole died in that meeting of a massive heart attack. Right there in the office of Captain Rod Kusch, head of LASD homicide. Needless to say, he was the first person ever to die in that office. And Carlin is convinced that the Sheriffs actually killed him in cold blood, after all, he had evidence of Sheriff corruption: “Did they pass him a drink what happened in there? We need to see the tape.”

There’s a lot about the Sheriffs that doesn’t smell right in this case – not least the fact that the same two Sheriffs are investigating Suge’s shooting at 1 Oak, and trying to put him away for murder at Tam’s… surely a conflict of interests! But this idea that a group of senior Sheriffs Deputies murdered an ex-cop in the middle of Sheriff’s HQ? Come on. I spoke to Captain Kusch about it, and I’m not going to accuse him of murder just off the cuff like that.

But that said, there are gaps in what he could tell me – no autopsy results, no confirmation of the names of people at that meeting, no access to the video of the event, nor even the core substance of what was discussed. And he did reveal that Poole had talked about a rogue Sheriff at 1 Oak. Was it Boyd? Kusch wouldn’t say.

So there’s something to this, but it’s right on that quivering line of paranoia where conspiracy theories live. I couldn’t go public with Boyd’s name at the time, not with such thin evidence. Carlin’s a lovely guy, but he’s not worked for a major journalistic organization – he’s more of an independent spirit, whose books have a hobbyist’s passion, all self-published, and with several vocal detractors. Like Thaddeus, he didn’t know that Boyd’s name was Henry until I told him, so how much did Poole actually know?

But Thaddeus had no such compunction – he named Henry Boyd in his motion.

Excerpt-from-Motion-re

It seems he felt emboldened by a KFI story that spoke of an unnamed Sheriff who’d resigned recently – even though this is information we already knew. But at this point, Thaddeus is so committed to the conspiracy narrative, that he even appended Carlin’s latest book, Chaos Merchants, as an exhibit on his Motion To Unseal. “I’m not saying I’ve got the proof, but I’m just putting it out there, so the public knows,” he told me. “There’s a big difference between the filings during a trial, and in the lead-up.” So it’s a tactic. He’s letting the media, and a potential jury, know that those Sheriffs, they’re up to something.

For now, the mystery of Henry A. Boyd remains. If it’s true, it’s earth-shattering – that a Sheriff would aid in a murder attempt in a crowded nightclub like that, and then be shielded by the thin blue line? It would go to the top of the now towering pile of evidence that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department is riddled with corruption. And it wouldn’t be the first time that dirty cops have featured in the Suge Knight story – Death Row was littered with them.

But what Thaddeus needs is proof to get this story to stand up. I’m no attorney, but surely the next step is to subpoena Boyd, depose him or put him on the stand, file a motion to discover his case history, expose any gang associations, and break down his every last movement on the night of the 1 Oak shooting. But none of these things have been done. And we’ve known about Boyd since July.

For my part, I pestered the Sheriff’s communications department and filed a FOIA request, I did what I could. All I’ve received – on April 5th – was this: “This is an open court case, and due to ongoing litigation we can’t comment on your enquiries. But I can confirm that Henry Boyd has separated from the Sheriff’s Department in January 2016”.

So let’s see what happens. This case never fails to amaze me.

Next up, I’m going to tell you the story that Suge told Judge Coen that day, about how the Sheriffs  jailhouse informants. Another sordid Sheriff conspiracy?

1-Oak-600

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.