Santa Barbara police yesterday showed video and audio tape evidence to dismiss claims by Michael Jackson that he was manhandled and otherwise humiliated when he handed himself over to face child molestation charges six weeks ago.
Adding to the controversies swirling around Mr Jackson, it emerged yesterday that he was paid about $1m by CBS television for the 60 Minutes interview broadcast last weekend and a television special yet to be shown.
Flatly contradicting Mr Jackson's claims in the interview, Jim Anderson, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff, insisted the singer was treated with "courtesy and professionalism" when he was charged, then released on 27 November, a process which took only an hour.
Afterwards, Mr Jackson was shown leaving the sheriff's office, apparently in good fettle, smiling and waving to supporters as he was driven away.
Police officials said he was handcuffed like any other prisoner "for about a minute", and blew a kiss to other inmates. He was then kept in a holding room with lavatory, sink and bench for 15 to 20 minutes to await formal charging.
The singer told a rather different story on the 60 Minutes programme. He showed what looked appeared to be a large bruise on his right forearm, which he said was caused by "mistreatment" from jail officials. "My shoulder is dislocated, literally, it's hurting very badly," Mr Jackson said. "I'm in pain all the time. It's very swollen and it keeps me from sleeping."
He added that he was locked in a faeces-smeared restroom when he asked to use the facilities.
Fred Olguin, the chief deputy sheriff, hotly disputed that version of events in a separate television interview. "I don't understand where he comes off with that," he said. "I don't run my jail like that."
The tapes shown yesterday to reporters display a tidy interior, with no sign of any fracas. Mr Olguin's version is shared by most observers, sceptical that police would do anything to add controversy to an exceptionally high-profile case.
They also noted that Mr Jackson had not filed a formal legal complaint against Santa Barbara police department.
The singer, who is free on $3m (£1.7m) bail, is being protected by the Nation of Islam, the black Muslim group led by the activist Louis Farrakhan.
Mr Jackson's brother Jermaine admitted that the Nation "is working with Michael. We didn't ask them to pray. We asked them to secure him". The Jackson camp denies the Nation has any musical or financial involvement with the singer.Reuse content