LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A retired L.A. County Sheriff’s Lt. who worked as Michael Jackson’s bodyguard told a jury Thursday he was concerned the singer would overdose in the early 2000s and detailed one instance when he found the late star passed out in his hotel room.
Former Head of Security for Michael Jackson, Michael La Perruque, was called to the witness stand by attorneys for concert promoters AEG Live.
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, is suing the firm for what she claims is negligence is the hiring and supervision of the doctor convicted of administering the dose of a powerful anesthetic, propofol, that killed the star in 2009 while the singer was preparing for his ill-fated comeback concert series.
As CBS2’s Randy Paige reports, La Perruque testified he worked for Jackson between 2001 and 2004.
He said that during that time he saw Michael Jackson with slurred speech and apparently under the influence of what he called “stimulants” between 10 and 15 times. He also testified he spoke to Jackson on the phone another 10 to 15 times when the pop star had slurred speech.
La Perruque was questioned in detail about one episode in 2001 or 2002 in a Florida hotel, when he received a call in his room from security indicating Michael Jackson’s children had called 911, crying about their father’s state.
“I immediately grabbed Mr. Jackson’s key and went across and opened the door, where I found the two children, Prince and Paris, saying they couldn’t wake up daddy,” La Perruque testified.
“I found Mr. Jackson in the hallway laying prone and unconscious. I turned him over. Ultimately he was breathing so I kept shaking him and waking him up and then I was able to get him up and escort him back to his bedroom and put him in bed,” he said.
Paramedics checked out the singer and determined he didn’t need further medical attention, La Perruque said.
Deborah Chang, an attorney for Jackson’s mother, said there was no evidence that the incident was drug-related.
Despite seeing the entertainer impaired, La Perruque said he never saw Jackson take any drugs or saw any signs of medications lying around.
He testified he last saw Jackson two weeks before the singer’s death and he looked fine, but he noticed that his former boss was skinnier than usual.
La Perruque said he spoke to two of Jackson’s doctors about his concerns about the singer’s prescription drug use, but that he never spoke directly about it to the singer because he didn’t want him to become defensive.
“It was my concern that he may overdose,” he said.
La Perruque also testified that Michael Jackson had difficulty sleeping.
“We had discussions where he said as an artist he would always have a tune in his head, different melodies in his head. He wasn’t able to stop it, it was just something always constant, going through his brain,” La Perruque testified.
La Perruque stopped working for Jackson in 2004, but returned to oversee his security in late 2007. He said he didn’t see any signs that Jackson was impaired during the few months he worked for him again.
He testified this was a very difficult time in Jackson’s life, with a controversial documentary released and a criminal trial soon after.
La Perruque testified he has always believed Jackson was innocent of the child molestation charges the singer was acquitted of in the criminal trial.
Jackson family attorneys will continue their cross examination on Monday.
AEG denies it is responsible for the singer’s death.
Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death, is currently serving a four-year sentence in a L.A. County jail.
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