Gangsta rap

Knight, founded Death Row Records, the label that shaped the rise of gangsta rap. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

Marion "Suge" Knight's probation officer has urged a judge to keep the Death Row Records executive in jail because of an alleged assault in a Las Vegas hotel on Sept. 7--just hours before and a few blocks away from where rapper Tupac Shakur was shot.

In a report filed Monday with Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger, the probation officer said he had seen a surveillance video that purportedly shows Knight and others, including Shakur, pummeling another man in an MGM Grand Hotel lobby.

Noting that Knight, 31, is on probation for a 1992 assault, the probation officer recommended that the record executive remain jailed pending a Nov. 15 probation violation hearing.

In the report, probation officer David S. Crowley called the tape compelling evidence. But Knight's chief defense attorney called the report ludicrous. Encino lawyer David Kenner added: "The allegation that Suge Knight beat someone up at the MGM is meritless."

The report apparently sheds no new light on Shakur's killing. It does, however, provide yet another twist in Knight's probation case--already replete with what a judge has called "incredible allegations."

The victim of the hotel scuffle has been identified by police as Orlando Anderson, 22, a reputed gang member from Lakewood.

One of the many conflicting theories about who killed Shakur is that the shooting was retaliation for the incident in the hotel. But Las Vegas police have said Anderson--who was arrested Oct. 2 in a gang sweep in Compton and then released--is not a suspect.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. Kevin Manning, who is heading the investigation of Shakur's killing, could not be reached for comment. Last week, however, he said the investigation was still open.

Shakur had previously been identified on the hotel videotape. But the probation report marks the first time Knight has been accused of also being involved in the fight.

Knight has been in jail since Oct. 22 for allegedly violating probation on three other counts, including missing drug tests and leaving the country without first notifying the probation department.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Bill Hodgman, who is handling the probation case, declined to comment Monday. Crowley also declined to comment.

Los Angeles attorney Edi M.O. Faal, who represents Anderson, said Monday that his client has not been contacted by the district attorney's office regarding the latest developments in Knight's case.

Knight is due to appear Thursday in court for a bail hearing. He has been on probation since Feb. 9, 1995, when he entered no-contest pleas to two counts of assault. Judge John Ouderkirk imposed five years' probation and a suspended nine-year prison sentence.

The plea bargain was recommended by Deputy Dist. Atty. Lawrence M. Longo and Kenner. Longo was taken off the case Sept. 17 after the district attorney's office learned that Knight was living in the Longo family beach house in the exclusive Malibu Colony. In addition, Longo's daughter was signed this year to a Death Row Records deal.