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‘We Had an Obligation to Do These Brothers Justice’: Mekhi Phifer Reflects on Starring in ‘Paid in Full’ with Fellow Co-stars, Amid Reports Film’s Muse Was Killed

Former drug lord Alberto “Alpo” Martinez, who was portrayed in the classic crime drama “Paid in Full” and infamously testified against lower-level participants in his gang, was shot and killed in an apparent drive-by shooting in Harlem over the weekend. Now those who portrayed him and his affiliates are reflecting on illustrating their story on the big screen. 

Mekhi Phifer, who starred as Rich Porter, Alpo’s business partner, alongside Azie Faison, played by Wood Harris, took to his social media page on Monday, Nov. 1, when news initially broke of Martinez’s death, to reflect on their days on set. 

Mekhi Phifer (L) reflects on “Paid in Full” with co-star Cam’ron (R) following the reported death of Alpo Martinez, on whom the film was based. Photo: @mekhifromharlem/Instagram

“My brother @mr_camron and myself on the set of #paidinfull bringing to life the story of true #HarlemInfluencers #richporter and #alpo …” the Harlem native wrote alongside a vintage photo of him and Cam’ron on set of the movie. “True story, myself and Cam went to the same high-school in Harlem at the same time. 116th and Pleasant ave. Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics. We had an obligation to do these brothers justice! I’m just happy we were able to have the honor of doing so.”

The 46-year-old revealed he was much younger and never actually met the man he played in the Damon Dash and Jay-Z produced feature. “But got the essence from their friends and family when I chose to do the role. I grew up knowing the legend of these Kats and had to represent the humanity in the choices they made,” he continued.

“Hopefully lessons were learned and not glorified in any way. Hopefully we were able to capture their motivation and mannerisms. RIP to both these brothers. Much love!” 

Co-star Cam’ron replied, “Thank you and (wood Harris) for teaching me during the movie a lot of acting skills. This was my first movie and was raw talent. Couldn’t have done it without you both. love bro.” Phifer applauded the rapper on his performance. “You really dug in and did the damn thing,” he said. “We had to represent Uptown to the fullest!”

Martinez was found behind the wheel of a Dodge Ram Truck that had crashed into parked cars near Frederick Douglass Blvd. near W. 147th St. just before 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31, FOX News New York reported.

He was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals Harlem but apparently did not survive his injuries. Martinez was said to be in the witness protection program, but rarely kept a low profile and was reported to have many enemies.  

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