Witness: Michael Jackson doctor interrupted CPR
LOS ANGELES (AP) – As Michael Jackson lay dying in his bedroom in a rented mansion, his doctor stopped CPR on him and delayed calling paramedics so he could collect drug vials at the scene, according to an employee of the pop star who called 911.
Alberto Alvarez, who worked as Jackson’s logistics director, told investigators that after receiving a distress call from another worker June 25, he rushed up the stairs of Jackson’s home and entered a bedroom to find the singer lying on a bed with his arms outstretched and his eyes and mouth open.
At his side, Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was administering CPR with one hand.
“Alberto, Alberto, come quickly,” Murray said, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “He had a reaction, he had a bad reaction.”
Two of the star’s children, Prince and Paris, came in the room and cried as they saw Murray trying to save their father. They were quickly ushered away.
The account and other statements obtained by the AP depict a grisly scene in Jackson’s room in the final minutes before paramedics arrived.
Jackson’s death at age 50 was ruled a homicide caused by an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives.
The possibility that Murray may have tried to hide evidence is likely to be a focus as prosecutors move ahead with their involuntary manslaughter case against him.
Alvarez told police he arrived at Jackson’s home around 10:20 a.m. He was awaiting instructions for the day in a security trailer outside Jackson’s rented mansion when, at 12:17 p.m., his phone rang. It was Jackson’s personal assistant Michael Amir Williams, who said Jackson was in trouble.
Alvarez said he was “frozen and stunned” when he saw Jackson on the bed.
Murray then grabbed a few vials with rubber tops and told Alvarez to put them in a bag, Alvarez told investigators. Alvarez picked up a plastic bag from the floor and Murray put the bottles inside, then Murray told Alvarez to put that plastic bag inside a brown canvas bag, according to the account.
Alvarez said Murray then told him to remove an IV bag from a stand and put it in a blue canvas bag. He did, and noticed the bag had a connector with a milky white substance in it. Alvarez didn’t say what happened to the bags, nor did he identify what was in the vials.
Two days after Jackson’s death, under several hours of questioning by police, Murray eventually directed them to a closet in Jackson’s bedroom. In it, they found propofol and other sedatives in a bag.
Murray’s lawyer, Ed Chernoff, rejected the notion his client tried to hide drugs. He also noted Alvarez was interviewed twice by police and gave different accounts of what happened in Jackson’s bedroom. During the first interview, Alvarez did not mention being told to tidy away medicine vials.
“He wasn’t putting bottles in a bag and trying to hide them,” Chernoff said. “We are confident that a fair trial will ferret out the truth.”
On the day Jackson died, Murray waited until the bags were filled before telling Alvarez to call 911, according to Alvarez’s statement.
The documents also detail an odd encounter with Murray after Jackson was declared dead at a nearby hospital. Murray insisted he needed to return to the mansion to get cream that Jackson had “so the world wouldn’t find out about it,” according to the statements, which provide no elaboration.
Alvarez and the others who gave the statements, Williams and driver/bodyguard Faheem Muhammad, could be key witnesses should Murray go to trial. Except for the brief appearances by the nanny and the children, Alvarez and Muhammad were the only others in the room with Murray as he tried to save Jackson before paramedics arrived.
Murray, 57, a cardiologist licensed in Nevada, California and Texas, has acknowledged briefly leaving Jackson’s bedside the day he died but maintained from the outset that nothing he gave the singer should have killed him. It wasn’t illegal for him to administer propofol, though whether he followed proper procedures while Jackson was under the influence is a key part of the case.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office has asked a court to suspend Murray’s license pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against him.