A former head of personal security for Michael Jackson testified today he often saw the pop star intoxicated during his three years on the job, including once when he found the singer passed out on a hotel floor.
Michael Laperruque, who worked for Jackson from 2001-04, said the hotel incident occurred in Florida at a Disney World establishment with an African theme.
Testifying in the trial of Katherine Jackson’s wrongful-death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live, Laperruque said he went to Jackson’s suite after receiving information that the hotel had made a 911 call for paramedics on Jackson’s behalf. He said he encountered two of the singer’s children, Paris and Prince, in an emotional state.
“They were crying that they couldn’t wake up daddy,” Laperruque said.
Jackson was “prone and unconscious” on a floor of the suite, Laperruque said.
Asked by AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam if he was worried, Laperruque replied, “I was concerned, yes.”
Laperruque said he shook the singer, helped him into bed and eventually revived him. He said he tried to have the paramedics call cancelled, but he was unable to do so.
Laperruque said he never tried to talk about the incident later with Jackson, nor did he discuss his concerns with the singer’s family.
“I didn’t believe it was my place to do so,” he said.
However, Laperruque said that during the time he worked for Jackson he addressed his concerns about the singer’s possible drug abuse with two of the entertainer’s doctors, as well as the pop star’s nanny at the time, Grace Rwaramba.
The testimony of Laperruque came as the 14th week of trial continued in the negligence/wrongful death lawsuit that family matriarch Katherine Jackson filed in September 2010 against AEG Live, the promoter of her late son’s planned comeback shows.
The suit, which also names the singer’s three children as plaintiffs, alleges that the company hired Dr. Conrad Murray as the pop star’s physician for the tour and failed to supervise him properly. But AEG Live maintains it was Jackson who hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during his “This Is It” concerts.
Laperruque said he was alerted to Jackson’s possible drug abuse by the singer’s slurred speech as well as other aspects of his behavior. However, he said he never witnessed the singer take drugs or alcohol and that Jackson was often alert and normal.
Laperruque said when Jackson’s family tried to intervene and help him with his drug problem, the singer resisted. Laperruque cited an occasion when the entertainer’s brother, Randy Jackson, arrived at Neverland Ranch to try to speak to the singer about the family’s concerns.
Laperruque said that at Jackson’s orders, he told the older sibling that the singer did not want to see him.
Jackson said he had a sleeping problem that was due in part to his work, Laperruque said.
“He said that as an artist he always had a tune in his head,” Laperruque said.
Laperruque said he was unaware until after Jackson died that the singer took propofol to help him sleep.
He said that because Jackson’s schedule was so demanding and caused him to miss important dates with his children, he eventually left his post to spend more time with his family.
Jackson was in Los Angeles rehearsing for the tour when he died at age 50 on June 25, 2009. Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for giving the singer a lethal intravenous dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid and was sentenced to four years in jail.
Bill Hetherman | City News Service