[b]Sheriff’s Dept. Plays into Hands of the Defense? – MJEOL Bullet #53[/b] The Santa Barbara Sheriff, Jim Anderson, held a press conference today (Dec 31) flatly denying the allegations of “manhandling” leveled against them from Michael Jackson. In an incredibly curious press conference, Anderson read a statement and played snippets of videotape and audio tape of what happened before Jackson was taken to the precinct. Anderson did not play any video or audio footage of Jackson while he was in their custody inside the police station. Jackson has said they locked him into a feces-riddled bathroom for approximately 45 minutes. According to reports at the time, Jackson spent approximately 1 hour and 13 minutes inside the police precinct. No real explanation was given by the sheriff as to why it took that long to take a fast-tracked Jackson’s mug shot, get fingerprints and file his paperwork. Anderson says an independent investigation will be launched through the state’s Attorney General’s office. The fact that the sheriff asked for this investigation may be more telling than we all realize. If the sheriff was not present at the booking, at all times, then he would be relying on the word of his officers. Following the police’s press conference, Firpo Carr and others held a press conference of their own. CNN broadcasted a part of it before cutting it short to allow former prosecutor Chris Darden to chime in with his thoughts. Before his comments about the case, however, Carr clarified his role in relation to Michael Jackson. He stated, contrary to what has already been reported, he [Carr] is not a member of the Nation of Islam (N.O.I), nor is he a “spiritual advisor” to Michael Jackson. He is a “friend” of family. Carr expressed how “curious” it was the videotape played by the sheriff was not in its entirety. What was also puzzling was the fact that no real proof was provided to combat Jackson’s main claims. In fact, Jackson has never claimed he was manhandled in the hanger on the way to the police station. Anderson admits Jackson did say the handcuffs were hurting him and were too tight on his wrists. The officers accompanying him to the station did not adjust them so that they were no longer hurting Jackson. There was no video of Jackson being treated “fairly” and with the “utmost respect” while at the police station. Nor is there any footage showing Jackson’s demeanor after he was let out the bathroom while at the station. It is also unclear at this time if Jackson knew he was being taped in the car on the way to the police station. Many in the media have, thus far, not asked some very serious questions concerning what was [i]not[/i] shown by sheriff Anderson. There have been questions by some as to whether or not the sheriff’s department has played right into the hands of the defense by locking themselves into public statements that may later be proven false. This could be a possibility based on a [url=http://forum.mjeol.com/index.php?showtopic=12459]statement released today (Dec 31) by Mr. Geragos[/url], Jackson’s defense attorney. In the statement, Geragos says:

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We not only welcome an investigation by the Attorney General of California, but will ask that the entire case from its inception be investigated by that office.

Had this call for an investigation come from the defense, would it have been pursued? Who knows. But a call for an investigation coming from the Sheriff of Santa Barbara may hold more weight with the Attorney General. Mr. Geragos continues:

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The deliberate disregard of the findings of the Los Angeles Department of Children & Family Services investigation—and closure of this case as totally unfounded by that agency—seriously hurts the credibility of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff.

The Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, [url=http://forum.mjeol.com/index.php?showtopic=12461]issued a statement[/url] today saying he has ordered an independent investigation into whether Jackson’s rights were violated. According to the AP, Lockyer says he is unsure how long the investigation will take to complete:

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“At the request of the Santa Barbara Sheriff, I have directed special agents from my Division of Law Enforcement…to conduct an independent investigation into whether the rights of Michael Jackson were violated when he was booked and arrested earlier this month (sic)…Once our investigation is completed, we will make our findings public and ensure that appropriate action is taken as necessary.

There are rumblings as to whether Geragos has further evidence not yet released to the public confirming Jackson’s claims. Upon closer inspection of the photo showing Jackson’s bruise(s), one can clearly see that there appears to be another bruise and knot in the exact same area on Jackson’s other arm. There may be a series of photos, documentation and statements from doctors, and other evidence speaking to the claims of Jackson’s allegations. If Geragos can prove the allegations of “manhandling” leveled against the sheriff’s department, he may also convince the Attorney General there should be an investigation of the entire case against Jackson. Sheriff Anderson also made a statement which got many legal professionals scratching their heads. During the press conference, he stated Jackson could be charged with filing a false complaint if he was lying about being “manhandled”. According to legal analysts, the law in California states a formal complaint must be filed in order for that to occur. Reports say Jackson has not filed a formal complaint with the sheriff’s department and that a TV interview alone does not qualify as a formal complaint. Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson says “I think it’s a stretch to say that his verbal complaints in an interview are the same as a formally filed complaint that would expose him to criminal liability.” According to Associated Press writer Jeff Wilson, “Levenson said a recent state Supreme Court ruling found that the state law against filing false reports doesn’t apply to casual speech” (see [url=http://forum.mjeol.com/index.php?showtopic=12469]Sheriff Denies Abuse, Cannot file charges against Jackson[/url]). Thus, Jackson cannot be charged with filing a complaint which the sheriff’s department has previously said doesn’t exist. Does the threat, from Sheriff Anderson, of more charges being filed against Jackson illustrate the prosecution’s and police’s total disregard for the law? Possibly. If Jackson is vindicated by yet another independent 3rd party governmental agency, the prosecution will have yet another gigantic hurdle they may not be able to overcome. Stay tuned. -MJEOL

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