- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

UPDATED:

Police officials said Friday they are looking for the doctor who was with pop superstar Michael Jackson when he died yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles amid suspicion he received an injection of Demerol or another narcotic.

Investigators have already interviewed the unidentified doctor but want to talk to him again, said Richard French, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.

The LAPD would be the lead agency if a criminal investigation was started in connection with the death of Mr. Jackson, who died at 5:26 p.m. EDT at the UCLA Medical Center.

However, no criminal investigation has been started, Mr. French said.

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He also said investigators are looking for the doctor so Mr. Jackson’s death certificate can be signed. If the doctor cannot be found, an attending physician can sign the certificate. Mr. French defined an “attending physician” as one of Mr. Jackson’s doctors, not specially one involved in events Thursday.

A vehicle was towed from outside of Mr. Jackson’s rented Holmby Hills home Thursday. The LAPD said the vehicle belongs to the doctor.

Officials have released a tape of the 911 call requesting emergency help at the home.

The tape indicates Mr. Jackson was lying on a bed and being treated by a personal physician when the call was placed at 3:21 p.m. EDT.

The 911 operator told the male caller to put Mr. Jackson on the floor and start CPR.

“We have a personal doctor here and [Mr. Jackson] is not responding to anything,” the caller said, according to a tape of the call to the Los Angeles fire department that was obtained by CNN.

“He’s pumping his chest and he’s not responding to anything,” the distressed caller says before urging the operator to hurry to the home.

The operator responded by saying emergency medical technicians were on the way.

The autopsy on Mr. Jackson began Friday at about 11 a.m. EDT, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

The tests are expected to take several hours, and the coroner’s office will likely make a statement when they are completed. However, it will take six to eight weeks for the test findings to be completed, Lt. Ed Winter, an assistant chief for the coroner’s office, told CNN.

Mr. Winter told CNN that toxicology tests will be performed, as a standard procedure. He also said he has no information, except for media reports, about Mr. Jackson receiving a shot of the narcotic Demerol before his death. Mr. Jackson was 50.

Mr. Winter said he was not sure whether a police official would be present during the autopsy.

President Obama called Mr. Jackson a “spectacular performer and a music icon” and expressed his condolences to the family, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

However, the president also said “aspects of [Mr. Jackson’s] life were sad and tragic,” Mr. Gibbs added.

Famed actress Elizabeth Taylor, a longtime friend of Mr. Jackson, said she was preparing to head overseas for the beginning of Mr. Jackson’s tour when she heard the news.

“I loved Michael with all my soul and I can’t imagine life without him,” she said. “I don’t think anyone knew how much we loved each other. The purest most giving love I’ve ever known … I keep looking at the photo he gave me of himself, which says, ‘To my true love Elizabeth, I love you forever.’ And I will love him forever.”

Mr. Jackson’s body was taken to the coroner’s officer from the UCLA Medical Center where doctors spent more than an hour trying to revive him.

Mr. Jackson was brought to the hospital by ambulance from his home. Paramedics spent about 40 minutes trying to resuscitate Mr. Jackson before taking him to the hospital.

“It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home,” brother Jermaine Jackson said at a press conference Thursday. “However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known.”

Cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm that stops the heart from pumping blood and can be cause by a heart attack or other heart problems.

Mr. Jackson’s death has resulted in widespread speculation about what exactly killed him — from poor health to a possible dependency on prescription drugs.

The British tabloid the Sun reported, citing an Emergency Room source at UCLA, that Jackson aides had said the singer collapsed and died after an injection of Demerol — a drug similar to morphine that also can cause breathing to shut down.

Jackson family lawyer Brian Oxman told CBS: “I have said to family members that he is overmedicated.”

“I have warned that one day Michael Jackson would wake up dead, and that I would not be silent if that was the case, because of the misuse of medications,” he said.

Mr. Jackson, who reportedly had a personal physician in his home Thursday, was preparing for 50 sold-out concerts at London’s 02 Arena and reportedly had to pass a lengthy physical for the concert promoters before signing up for the shows.

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