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Arts and Entertainment

Sheriff's Department Demands Apology After Fox's Tupac/Biggie Special Accuses Wrong Officer Of Mishandling Case

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As part of the long quest to figure out the identities of the people who killed Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, Fox aired a special on Sunday that was devoted to the evergreen topic. Given the fairly straight-forward title of Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?, the two-hour special dove into every nook and cranny of the case, going as far as simulating the shootings with ballistics experts.

Ice-T and Soledad O’Brien served as our hosts as the doc made a number of assertions; one of which was that Steven Katz of the L.A. County Sheriff's department had mishandled the case involving Smalls’ death (the rapper was shot and killed in the Mid-Wilshire district after leaving a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum). Katz was the lead on the Smalls case; he’d later be removed from the investigation after he’d said he’d overlooked some important transcripts.

There was one big problem with the special’s claims about Katz. The photo they used of Katz was actually that of Commander Stephen D. Katz of the L.A. County Sheriff’s department, not of Steven Katz of the Los Angeles Police Department (the real detective who'd handled the case). As stated in a later LASD statement, this mistake also erroneously suggests that the Sheriff’s department was involved in the investigation over Small’s death (in the special Katz was shown wearing a LASD badge, and standing in front of LASD logos), when in fact the case was being handled by the LAPD.

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The department said Monday in a statement that it “is demanding an immediate public apology and retraction from the FOX Broadcasting Company and associated networks for their defamatory use of a photograph of LASD Commander Steven D. Katz,” adding that the “segment defamed Katz by repeatedly showing his photograph and expressing through graphics, an indication of “disgrace and outrage” into the handling of the case.”

The statement was responded to by both Fox and Critical Content, who produced the special. “FOX regrets the error and extends an apology to Commander Katz and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” the network said in a statement Tuesday, according to Deadline. “Critical Content apologizes to Commander Steve Katz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose photo was mistakenly included in last night’s airing,” Critical Content said in a Monday statement.

The gaffe was both glaring and irresponsible, to be sure. But it was also only one of the crazy things that happened on Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?. To wit, in the special Suge Knight expressed his belief that Shakur is still alive (video above), perpetuating a long-held conspiracy theory.