LATEST: Rapper Busta Rhymes has been slammed by a high-ranking police official as cowardly for fleeing the investigation into the murder of his bodyguard to complete his music video.

The Break Ya Neck hitmaker flew to Los Angeles last weekend (25-26FEB06) to put the finishing touches to his star-studded TOUCH IT remix. It was during filming of the same video earlier this month (05FEB06) that his minder ISRAEL RAMIREZ was fatally wounded outside a Brooklyn, New York City, warehouse.

Rhymes, real name TREVOR SMITH, has been criticised by police and Ramirez's family since the shooting for failing to co-operate with the murder investigation and his Californian escape has been largely seen as an attempt to avoid a subpoena.

A police source tells the New York Daily News, "(He's) afraid to come back to New York and get served."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has previously threatened the rapper and other witnesses who fail to come forward, they could be called in front of a grand jury.

Kelly added, "I find it quite disturbing. This individual was shot in front of a lot of people."

Busta Rhymes has made no comment as to his whereabouts, but a music industry source revealed he is now back in New York.