Jackson Security Details Drug Concerns

A former security worker for Michael Jackson told a jury Thursday that he was concerned the singer would overdose on prescription medications in the early 2000s but didn’t see signs of impairment in the singer later that decade.

Photo: Pat Roque, File/AP
Performing the first of two concerts in Manila during the HIStory World tour.

Michael La Perruque said he occasionally went into the singer’s hotel room to make sure he was breathing and would often find doctors to treat the pop superstar when he traveled. La Perruque retired from his job as a sheriff’s deputy in 2001 to work as the head of Jackson’s security detail and frequently traveled with him until 2004.

La Perruque said the singer’s children called 911 during a trip to Florida in 2001 or 2002 after their father collapsed in a hallway in a hotel suite at Walt Disney World. He said he found Jackson unconscious, revived him before paramedics arrived and never saw any signs of drugs or alcohol that the singer may have taken.

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.

He told jurors that his testimony Thursday was only the second time he had told the story. The first came in a deposition with lawyers for AEG Live LLC, which is being sued by Jackson’s mother claiming the company negligently hired the doctor convicted of giving her son a fatal overdose of the anesthetic propofol.

AEG denies it is responsible for the singer’s death.

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 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.

He said he knew Jackson had severe back pain and difficulty sleeping. Despite seeing the entertainer impaired, La Perruque said he never saw Jackson take any drugs or saw any signs of medications lying around.

Jackson did try to get help, he said. “He fought very hard to be sober,” La Perruque said. “He fought very hard not to be dependent on these prescription medications.”

Jackson however kept members of his family away because he knew they were trying to stage an intervention, he said.

He told jurors that Jackson’s younger brother Randy arrived at Neverland Ranch one day in a helicopter to speak with his brother about his medication usage. La Perruque said he turned him away.

He said Jackson called him in the middle of the night between 20 and 30 times in the early 2000s and was often mumbling and incoherent. Half those times La Perruque said he went to the singer’s room to check on him, and they would start talking.

“I think he was just lonely,” La Perruque said. “He wanted somebody to talk to.”