A Los Angeles jury is deliberating on whether Marion “Suge” Knight should pay $81 million to the family of a man the Death Row Records founder ran over and killed in 2015. But good luck collecting, as Knight’s been in prison for years for the same crime and likely won’t get out anytime soon.
Knight made millions during his reign atop the business of ‘90s West Coast rap, lording over the biggest producers and performers of a generation from Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg. He also had notorious gang ties to a specific set of the Bloods in Compton and was known as much for his willingness to use violence and intimidation to get things done as he was for his business acumen.
Ultimately, it was violence that landed Knight in prison for 28 years on a guilty plea for voluntary manslaughter in the death of Terry Carter, who Knight ran over after an altercation outside a burger joint during the production of the NWA biopic “Straight Outta Compton”. Knight claimed that Carter’s death was an accident that happened as a result of a confrontation with Cle “Bone” Sloan, another former L.A. gangster who also had an acting career and was working security for the movie production. Knight pleaded no contest to the charges rather than risk a murder trial that could have sent him to prison for life.
But Carter’s wife and daughters say his death was no accident and they want Knight to pay them monetarily in addition to the years he owes the state in prison.
“Dying on the concrete floor alone at Tam’s Burgers was not a natural death. He was taken from these three women,” [plaintiffs’ lawyer Lance] Behringer said, pointing to Carter’s wife, Lillian Carter, and his two daughters, Nekaya and Crystal, who were seated in the front row of the courtroom. Behringer said each woman deserves a million dollars for each of the 27 years that Carter likely would have lived had Knight not crushed him with his truck during what was supposed to be a friendly meeting to cool tensions after Knight was turned away from the Straight Outta Compton production base camp.
“Nobody’s comfortable talking about money,” Behringer said. ‘But that’s what we have to do.”
It’s unclear, though, how much of Knight’s fortune he still has. Knight filed for bankruptcy in 2006 shortly after being hit with a $107 million penalty from a different lawsuit.