Jermaine Takes Aim at Sheriff's Defense

01/02/2004 at 01:05 AM EST

Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine, appearing on Friday's "Today" show, defended the embattled star's claims of mistreatment at the hands of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

On Wednesday this week, the Sheriff's Department said that it was not taking lightly the abuse claims Michael Jackson made on last Sunday's "60 Minutes." The department also released video- and audiotapes of Jackson's Nov. 20 booking that refute his allegations. Sheriff Jim Anderson said that because of the serious nature of Jackson's complaints, he has requested that the state attorney general's office conduct an investigation.

If the investigation proves that Jackson's comments on "60 Minutes" are 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."

"Quite clearly, as you can see, they are not going to show what went on in that police station," said Jermaine, 49, on Friday, adding that Michael "is not going to let them break his spirit. He knows they have a personal vendetta against him."

As for Michael's raising his arm and making the peace sign after leaving the police station when, as he claimed, his shoulder had been dislocated during the booking process, Jermaine said, "We don't feel pain when it's inflicted on us. We feel it later."

Asked by "Today" host Matt Lauer if Jermaine has asked Michael about the claims that the police have levied against him, Jermaine skirted the question by saying, "Michael is as humble a person as I am." He explained that this is an improper issue that would not be discussed.

Jermaine also said that children naturally gravitate toward all members of the Jackson family, including himself, and "we should not even use the word 'prison' in the same sentence as my brother."

Last Sunday, Michael Jackson told "60 Minutes" that 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.

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.

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