Though Michael Jackson had asked prosecutors to give him back his passport so he could travel to England for the holidays, he instead spent Christmas doing an interview with “60 Minutes” in which he claimed Santa Barbara authorities mistreated him when he turned himself in.
“They manhandled me very roughly,” Jackson told “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley. “My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting me very badly. I’m in pain all the time. This is — see this arm? — this is as far as I can reach it. Same with this side over here.”
Jackson claimed handcuffs were so tight they bruised him and caused swelling, and he produced a photo showing a long welt and swelling of his right forearm. He complained that the pain was so unbearable that he’s been unable to sleep, but footage taken after his arrest shows the singer waving to onlookers as he leaves the jail, raising his right arm to flash the peace sign. He also raised an arm outside of his vehicle once he returned to Las Vegas, waving to and touching fans running alongside.
In addition to the physical injuries, Jackson described being locked for 45 minutes in a bathroom smeared with feces while being taunted by a sheriff’s deputy. “He said, ‘Smell — does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?’ ” Jackson said. “And I just simply said, ‘It’s all right. It’s OK.’ So I just sat there and waited.”
Santa Barbara authorities categorically deny mistreating Jackson. Sgt. Chris Papas said in a news conference on November 20, the day of the arrest, that the booking process took 30 to 45 minutes and “was completed without incident.”
And after Jermaine Jackson later claimed on CNN that his brother had been mishandled, the Santa Barbara district attorney’s office said in a statement that Jackson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, was present during his client’s arrest and booking and “in fact has been complimentary about the way things were handled.” The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department reiterated this in a statement of its own at the time and has since elaborated in a revised statement in response to the “60 Minutes” interview.
“Mr. Jackson was treated with courtesy and professionalism throughout the process,” the statement reads. “At no time was he mishandled or subjected to any form of mistreatment. His attorney and security staff thanked members of the sheriff’s department for the level of cooperation professionalism demonstrated throughout the course of the process. … Mr. Jackson was afforded courteous and professional treatment consistent with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department’s organizational standards.”
Papas noted that there is a formal complaint process available to any person who believes they’ve been mistreated by the sheriff’s department, and that no complaint had been lodged by Jackson or his attorney.
Since Jackson did not embark on a previously planned trip to England — instead holding a gathering at Neverland on Saturday (see “Michael Jackson’s Friends, Family Gather At Neverland To Show Support” ) and granting an interview to “60 Minutes” on Wednesday — Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon has asked that the singer’s attorney return Jackson’s passport or provide written proof that the promotional trip to the U.K. is still on.
“The trip was represented by his attorney … as necessary to fulfill two contractual obligations that would result in significant financial penalties to Mr. Jackson,” Sneddon said in a statement, noting that neither he nor Sheriff Jim Anderson saw the contracts. “Mr. Geragos’ representations were the basis for our agreeing to the stipulation and the court signing it.”
Meanwhile, in exchange for Jackson’s cooperation with “60 Minutes,” his recently postponed CBS special now has an airdate. “Michael Jackson Number Ones,” which had been scheduled for November 26, will now air Friday at 8 p.m.
Though the special was originally going to include the debut of his new video, “One More Chance,” that song will not be heard, according to a network spokesperson. Instead the special, condensed from two hours to one, will feature Jackson’s classic music videos digitally enhanced with live performance footage as well as testimonials from the likes of Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, Wyclef Jean and Jennifer Lopez.
The “60 Minutes” interview apparently had another consequence on Monday (December 29). The singer’s spokesperson, Stuart Backerman, resigned over “strategic differences.”
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see “Michael Jackson Accused.”
For an explanation of the charges, see “Michael Jackson: The Charges Against Him.”