Sheriff denies Jackson charge of rough treatment
SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- A California sheriff on Wednesday denied that singer Michael was abused during his arrest on child molestation charges in November, and said he has asked the state attorney general to investigate.
"Should this investigation prove the charges made by Mr. Jackson to be groundless, I will request that criminal charges of false report of peace officer misconduct be pursued against him," Santa Barbara Count Sheriff Jim Anderson told reporters.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer quickly issued a statement saying he had ordered an independent investigation into whether Jackson's rights were violated. He said he did not know how long it would take, according to a report from The Associated Press.
Jackson, 45, surrendered to authorities November 20 to face multiple allegations of child molestation. The singer is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent, reportedly wine.
Jackson, who is free on $3 million bail, has said he is innocent.
In an interview aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," he said deputies dislocated his shoulder by manhandling him, fastened his handcuffs tight enough to leave his wrists swollen and locked him in a feces-smeared restroom for about 45 minutes.
Anderson said he is treating Jackson's statements as a citizen's complaint, but added that Jackson's treatment while in custody "can only be described as professional."
"Mr. Jackson was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy during his arrest, transport and booking and release by all members of this department," Anderson said.
There was no immediate response from Jackson's attorneys to the sheriff's announcement. Jackson's brother, Jermaine, and his lawyer, Mark Geragos, have made similar allegations in CNN interviews, and Geragos warned there would be "repercussions" for Michael Jackson's treatment.
In an audiotape played Wednesday for reporters, Santa Barbara County deputies advise Jackson how to sit more comfortably wearing handcuffs, after Jackson said they hurt him during his trip from the airport to the county jail. Later, Jackson asks to have the air conditioning turned up; when deputies did so and asked how he was doing, Jackson tells them, "wonderful."
"He was also whistling and singing to himself during transport," Anderson said.
The handcuffs were removed about 40 seconds after Jackson arrived at the jail, Anderson said. He also disputed Jackson's assertion that deputies dislocated his shoulder, noting that a videotape shows Jackson waving to onlookers upon his release.
"This activity is inconsistent with Mr. Jackson's claims of injuries incurred during his arrest and booking," Anderson said.
Jackson also complained to "60 Minutes" that police taunted him after locking him in a bathroom that had been smeared with feces.
Jackson is shown leaving a county jail in November after he was booked on molestation charges.
"It stunk so bad," he said. "Then one of the policemen came by the window, and he made a sarcastic remark. He said, 'Does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?' And I just simply said, 'It's all right. It's okay.' So I just sat there and waited."
But Anderson said the toilet in the holding cell that Jackson was allowed to use was cleaned shortly before the singer's arrest, and he said neither Jackson nor his lawyers made any complaints at the time.
"I think Mr. Jackson has seriously hurt his credibility," Anderson concluded at Wednesday's news conference.
Jackson has not filed a formal complaint against the department, The Associated Press reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Chief Deputy Fred Olguin, who oversees the jail and was present at Jackson's booking, told NBC's "Today" show that Jackson was handcuffed "around the wrist like any other prisoner," the AP reported.
He said the singer blew a kiss to other inmates as he was checked in, then was kept in a holding room with a toilet, sink and bench for 15 to 20 minutes. He said the holding room is scrubbed once a day, the AP reported.
I think he has hurt his own credibility.