Police in Berkeley are investigating the death of Zion I rapper Zumbi as a homicide, according to a new report from the San Francisco Chronicle. The legendary Bay Area artist died earlier this week due to unknown causes after reportedly being hospitalized for COVID-19.

Berkeley police Lt. Melanie Turner says police responded to multiple calls at 5:16 a.m. local time, alleging that a patient was involved in a physical altercation with nurses and security officers.

Turner said upon arrival “officers started handcuffing the involved person and determined that he needed immediate medical assistance.”

While staff attempted life-saving measures, Turner says “unfortunately and sadly he was pronounced deceased on the scene.”

Close collaborator of Zumbi’s, DJ True Justice, says that, despite the report, the late rapper “never condoned violence.”

“Steve was not a violent person; he never sought violence; he never condoned violence,” he told the publication. “However, I know as a person, I know Steve is very firm in his beliefs.”

The original statement put out in the wake of his death did not provide a cause of death.

“It is with utter disbelief and great sadness that the Gaines family shares the news of the passing of Steve ‘Zumbi’ Gaines on Friday, August 13, 2021,” the statement read. “Gaines, 49 and the MC of the critically acclaimed Hip Hop group Zion I, passed away at Alta Bates Hospital today in the early morning from unknown causes.”

[Via]

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