Before he was gunned down during a Hollywood Hills home invasion, Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke was dodging New York law-enforcement authorities who hounded him to inform on gang members and spill what he knew about a pair of Brooklyn shootings, The Post has learned.
The Canarsie-raised rapper — real name Bashar Jackson — was first grilled by an NYPD gang unit detective when he was arrested in December 2019 for possessing a stolen $375,000 Rolls Royce Wraith in the borough, a source close to the hip-hop star said.
The detective questioned Jackson about a non-fatal shooting in Canarsie in June 2019 because investigators said they had video of the rapper driving a car in reverse near the scene of the crime, the source said.
They also asked him to provide information about members of Brooklyns 823 Crips, a subset of the notorious street gang, according to the source.
But he refused to cooperate, his lawyer Peter Frankel said.
Any conversation with Pop about cooperation was a very short one. Its something he would never entertain doing, Frankel said.
Jackson was hit with six state charges, including criminal possession of stolen property, on Dec. 4 for allegedly having the car, according to a now-sealed criminal complaint obtained by The Post.
But when he refused to cooperate, he was suddenly also slapped with a federal charge in January 2020 a move Frankel said was likely to put pressure on the rapper to flip.
They hoped the force of the federal indictment would persuade him to cooperate meet and speak with them, Frankel said.
Its not uncommon for the federal government to become involved in an investigation when they believe that doing so will help them in a way a state court prosecution may not be able to do, he added.
In his federal case, Jackson was hit with a charge of interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, a crime the New York Times described as rarely seen in a federal indictment.
When he was arrested by the FBI at JFK Airport after returning from Europe, the same NYPD gang unit detective was there to grill the rapper about the 823 Crips and another shooting in New York, according to a source.
The detective wanted information about another non-fatal shooting on Jan. 4 outside of Jouvay nightclub in Jamaica, Queens. He again refused to cooperate.
Jackson was released on $250,000 bond and agreed to stay away from known gang members and submit drug tests to US pretrial services as part of his conditions.
The conditions kept him off stage in New York just before his slaying in California, according to previously unreported documents obtained by The Post.
In a Feb. 7 informational memo in his federal case, US pretrial services sought to block Jackson from performing at the BK Drip Concert at Kings Theatre in Flatbush on Feb. 16.
They said they had been notified by a field intelligence sergeant from the 70th Precinct that a number of the scheduled performers were identified gang members.
“Specifically, 8 Trey Cowboy Crip, 90’s G-Stone Crip, Slattery Boys and Vice Lords, the memo states.
Furthermore, these artists have been identified by the NYPD as perpetrators with violent criminal histories, with the defendant and one of the other artists remaining persons of interest in a non-fatal shooting that took place in Queens on January 4, it adds.
Jackson agreed to scrap his performance that night, but his attorney replied to the memo that it was his understanding he was not a person of interest in the shooting, rather a possible witness.
A police source familiar with the investigation agreed that it was a stretch to call him a person of interest in the shooting.
Just three days after he was slated to perform, Jackson was gunned down in an apparent home-invasion robbery at a luxury rental home where he was staying in the Hollywood Hills.
Jacksons debut studio album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, was posthumously released earlier this month to critical acclaim and commercial success.
Additional reporting by Larry Celona