Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1997 | 9:52 a.m.
The Las Vegas publisher of a book about the slaying of Tupac Shakur today defended the inclusion of a coroner's autopsy photo of the dead rap star.
Anthony Curtis, owner of Huntington Press, which recently released the book "The Killing of Tupac Shakur" by SUN reporter Cathy Scott, made his comments a day after the Clark County coroner's office called for an investigation into who leaked the photo to Scott.
"This (the threat of an investigation) does not really scare me -- we considered this before publication," Curtis said.
Coroner Ron Flud could not be reached for comment this morning.
The book was released a year after Shakur was shot several times while riding in a car after attending a boxing match in Las Vegas. He died several days later at a local hospital.
Curtis said the decision to run the gruesome photo, which shows deep surgical cuts in Shakur's chest and skull, was intended to disspell speculation that Shakur faked his death and is still alive.
"There is an enormous rumor that Tupac is alive," Curtis said. "This photo answers that question. The news value is there. It is a part of the entire puzzle that the author is trying to piece together to reveal what happened.
"We assumed there would be anger on the part of the coroner's office. But what I am surprised about is the accusations that the photo was improperly obtained. No one's rights were violated."
Curtis said his company did not pay for the photograph. Shortly after the killing, as much as $100,000 was offered for the photo by tabloids, Scott reported in the book.
Curtis said Scott is the owner of the photo and, though she told him it was legally obtained, she declined to reveal her source.
Scott declined to comment on the photo other than to say she obtained it legally and that she did not pay for it.
The book presold 2,000 to 3,000 copies. Initially, 25,000 copies were printed.