12/31/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department is not taking Michael Jackson's allegations against it regarding officers' behavior during the star's Nov. 20 arrest and booking process lying down, Sheriff Jim Anderson made clear at a press conference held in the California town on Wednesday at 11 a.m. local time.
Anderson, backed by video- and audiotapes of Jackson's "courteous and professional" (Anderson's terms) treatment by sheriff's staff, announced that because of the serious nature of Jackson's complaints, he has requested the state attorney general's office to conduct an investigation into Jackson's allegations.
If the results of the investigation prove that Jackson's comments on "60 Minutes" turn out to be false, and that he was not "manhandled," said Anderson, then the Sheriff's Department will demand that misdemeanor "criminal charges" be filed against Jackson for "making false report of police-officer misconduct."
Jackson told CBS correspondent Ed Bradley in a "60 Minutes" interview last Sunday that Santa Barbara County authorities taunted and "manhandled" him, dislocating his shoulder, when they arrested him on child molestation charges (for seven counts of molesting a boy under the age of 14 and two of plying him with alcohol beforehand).
During the TV interview, Jackson showed off what he said was a bruise on his right arm, which he said he received when jailers mistreated him.
"My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It's hurting very badly. I'm in pain all the time," Jackson said on the news program. "It's very swollen. ... It keeps me from sleeping at night." He also said he was locked in a feces-smeared restroom for 45 minutes after he asked to use the facilities, and that afterward he was asked if he liked the smell in there.
The tapes Anderson played at the press conference showed Jackson being treated with "utmost respect and courtesy," as Anderson described in his comments. Indeed, when asked while in custody how he was doing, Jackson on the tape told officers, "Fine." A second inquiry from officers brought a response from Jackson of "Wonderful, thank you," as heard on the tape.
Anderson made the point that Jackson waved to fans as he left the county jailhouse, which was not in keeping with the arm and shoulder injuries he claims, or his allegation that the officers injured Jackson's wrists when handcuffing him.
The sheriff also said that Jackson's attorney was present during some of the booking process and never once raised any objections to the treatment of his client.