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News Conference on Prince's Death. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired April 22, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JIM OLSON, CARVER COUNTY, MINNESOTA: And this is Martha Weaver from the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.


Martha, M-A-R-T-H-A, Weaver, W-E-A-V as in victor, E-R, spokesperson for Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.

OLSON: Welcome to Carver County.

I wish it was under different circumstances. This is a tragedy for all of us. To you, Prince Rogers Nelson was a celebrity. To us, he is a community member and a good neighbor. To his family, he's a loved one.

In life, he was a very private person. We're going to continue to respect his privacy and his dignity and hope that you will do as well. We also respect the media's right to information. Bear in mind that this incident happened about 29 hours ago and continues to be under investigation.

There are some things regarding this investigation that I will not be able to talk about. I'm going to give you a statement and we will then take some questions that you might have.

At about 9:43 yesterday morning, we received a medical call at Paisley Park in Chanhassen. Chanhassen Fire, the Carver County Sheriff's Office and rescue ambulance all responded to the call. That is our standard protocol, and it's not unusual at all for us to have everybody respond to a medical like that.

They found an unresponsive male in the elevator. CPR was initially started, but was unsuccessful. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07. We have identified him as Prince Rogers Nelson, 57 years old.

Staff members from Paisley Park had been able to -- had been unable to contact Prince yesterday morning and went to check on him. They found him unresponsive and called 911. Deputies went through the building to make sure that there was nobody else inside.

Because this was an unwitnessed death of a middle-aged adult, the decision was made to process the scene. That is also normal protocol. It is not different from what we normally would do. There should be no -- we ended up contacting the Hennepin County Crime Lab to help us with that.

And there should be no inference taken from that. It's not unusual for them to come out and do those types of calls. We finished with our processing late yesterday afternoon, and turned Paisley Park back over to Prince's representatives.

Again, because this investigation is ongoing, I will not be answering questions on whether or not there were any items that were taken during our processing. The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office was contacted and Dr. Quinn Strobl, who is the Carver County medical examiner, responded.

There were no signs of trauma on the body at all. The body was transported to Dr. Strobl's office for an autopsy. And that is being done today. Results from that autopsy may take several weeks, which is not unusual. Again, this will continue to be an open investigation until the autopsy results came back -- come back.

And we are ready to take questions that you may have.


OLSON: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: One of the 911 callers said that there were people in the home who were distraught. Could you tell us any more about who was in the home with Prince at the time of his death?

OLSON: There were staff members that were there that had went to check on him, and that's all I'm going to respond with that at this time.

QUESTION: Was there a suicide note found?

OLSON: I'm not responding to any kind of questions regarding what may have been taken. We have no reason to believe at this point that this was a suicide. But, again, this is early on in this investigation and it's continuing to -- we will continue to investigate.


OLSON: We have not received that information from the medical examiner's office at this time. It had not been in the couple of minutes before first-responders had arrived. It had not been within the couple of minutes that first-responders arrived.

QUESTION: You said he was a very private person or wasn't a private person. Was he a healthy person?


OLSON: Yes, I'm not the right one to answer that. We will let the medical examiner talk about that when that time comes.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) OLSON: I have checked calls for service in our log for that address,

as well as for -- in Prince's name person directly. There were no calls involving Prince in the past year that we have had.

You know, Paisley Park, Prince does some concerts there sometimes and get-togethers and so on. So it's not unusual for us to receive calls at Paisley Park itself. There was nothing that I'm aware of that involved Prince directly at Paisley Park.

Yes, sir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Are you able to confirm whether Prince was taking any medication at the time of his death?

OLSON: I am not able to confirm that at this time at all.

QUESTION: Sheriff, can I ask you a question over here?

OLSON: Sure, sir.

QUESTION: Can you explain to us, give us an idea of what the investigation will entail now, what types of (OFF-MIKE) I know (OFF- MIKE) specifics, but (OFF-MIKE)


You know, we will be talking to people that are close to him. We will be gathering some medical records and taking a look at those, between us and the medical examiner's office and working off of it from there.




OLSON: They were trying to reach him yesterday morning. They were unable to reach them -- or -- excuse me -- reach him, reach Prince. So they responded to Paisley Park to look for him and found him unresponsive in the elevator.

QUESTION: So he was alone at home?

OLSON: That is correct. Yes, we did not -- we did clear and go through the residence at the time and did not find anybody else there.

QUESTION: Are you cooperating with any other jurisdictions and are you looking at all into the flight that (OFF-MIKE) returned to Illinois?

OLSON: We will be looking at all of that.


QUESTION: Can you tell me what you have done so far, or you're just looking into it? OLSON: You know, our detectives -- this is 29 hours' old -- our

detectives are currently working on this case. So there are things that they're working on.

QUESTION: Are you cooperating with any other jurisdictions?

OLSON: Yes, of course we are. We always cooperate.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) You said there were no calls involving Prince in the last year. Are you aware of any hospital visits that he may have had recently?

OLSON: There are no calls involving the Carver County Sheriff's Office that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: I know you said you wouldn't get specific about things that were taken out of the home. Was there medication taken out of the home?

OLSON: Again, I'm not going to get specific on what was taken or was not taken from the home.

QUESTION: Do you know -- there have been these reports that he could have been on some sort of medication, Percocet. Have you gotten any evidence of that and talked to anyone about that?

OLSON: This case is currently under investigation, and I'm not going to talk about that at this time. Thank you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Illinois as well as his pharmaceutical records locally?

OLSON: We will be -- between us and the medical examiner's office, we will be looking at all of that, yes. Yes, absolutely.

QUESTION: There are reports that he frequented a local Walgreens several times in the past. Have you been there to talk to the employees there? Have you pulled any surveillance video and what have they said?

OLSON: That is part of the investigation, and that would be our normal protocol, certainly, to pull any type of video or so on. So...


OLSON: That's not what I said. I said that would be our normal protocol. This case is 29 hours' old and continues to evolve for us.

QUESTION: Sheriff, how detailed are your crime scene investigators?

OLSON: Excuse me.

QUESTION: How detailed are your crime scene investigators working and processing the scene? Can you kind of talk to us about how meticulous you guys are working and who is helping out on that? OLSON: Well, Hennepin County Crime Lab is helping us from a

processing standpoint and they are meticulous. That is what they do. So they're very meticulous, photos and so on.

QUESTION: Is there any indication of how long he was in the elevator? Had it been overnight, do you believe?

OLSON: You know, we're going to wait for the medical examiner's office to give us some of that information.

And I cut somebody off over here. Yes, ma'am, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: It's actually a question for the medical examiner.

OLSON: Sure.

And she's the public information officer. She's not the medical examiner.

WEAVER: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: So, is there any sign of a drug or a prescription drug overdose found at the studio?

WEAVER: There's no indication at this time in regard to exactly what you're talking about. It's part of the investigation.


WEAVER: Let me give you a little bit background about Midwest Medical Examiners.

We are working as part of the investigative team with the sheriff's office. So, much of the answers that I will be able to give you today will include the word pending.

So, we received the call at 10:12 yesterday morning to come and assist the Carver County Sheriff's Office in this investigation. Our chief medical examiner arrived on the scene at 11:30 yesterday morning, local time, and was on the scene for several hours.

The autopsy this morning began at 9:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time and concluded at 1:00 p.m. And just shortly, I received word that his body did leave Midwest Medical Examiner's Office and was released to the family.

As you know, it was a very meticulous exam. It was a complete exam. And so several of the pieces of information that are gathered in that process will be sent to labs for further testing. So, that answer is pending. And it will take days and weeks to complete those particular investigations.

QUESTION: Is it possible to say when he died? I know time of death is pronounced at seven minutes past 10:00. But had he been dead overnight in the elevator? Do you know when he actually stopped breathing? WEAVER: That information is pending.

QUESTION: Do you know what time he was removed from the building from Paisley Park? Do you know what time he was removed?

WEAVER: 15:39.

QUESTION: That's when he left Paisley Park to go to your place?


QUESTION: Yes, my question is for the sheriff, WCCO Radio.

Was there any extra people brought in because this was Prince or any extra deputies or anything like that different because of the way -- because it was Prince?

OLSON: There were a number of people that started gathering across the street very early, as well as media. So, yes, we certainly did bring other people in to help from a crowd control standpoint and to assist us with that.

As far as from a processing, scene processing standpoint, it's a very large area, Paisley Park is, so we had to bring a couple extra people in, and that was part of the reason also for having had the county assist us with that.

QUESTION: You had to search room to room, is that what you're talking about, because of the building size?

OLSON: Yes. Yes. the building is pretty big.

QUESTION: Sheriff, were there surveillance cameras at Paisley Park and do you have them?

OLSON: That is -- that will be part of the investigation. I don't want to comment on that right now.

QUESTION: Sheriff, does it appear that he used elevator because he felt he was about to pass out or was unable to take the stairwell? Did he have access to stairways or was he getting on the elevator intentionally?

OLSON: Yes, he certainly does have access to stairways. Paisley Park, again, is a big place.

And I don't think it would be unusual for him to use the elevator. The staircases are pretty long. So I don't think that would be unusual. If that's why he took the elevator or not, I can't say.

QUESTION: Did he hit the ground in the elevator? (OFF-MIKE) he collapsed inside the elevator?

OLSON: Yes, he was collapsed inside the elevator. That is correct. I haven't been over -- OK, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you know when the last time he was seen alive and at what point he had retired for the night?

OLSON: The information we have right now is that he was last seen about 8:00 Wednesday night.

QUESTION: Where was that?

OLSON: At Paisley Park. He had been dropped off there.

QUESTION: Just a question. Had you met Prince before? If the mayor or the sheriff would like to answer, and if so, what was that interaction like, if you had met Prince before?

DENNY LAUFENBURGER, MAYOR OF CHANHASSEN, MINNESOTA: I did meet Prince, but it wasn't in my capacity as mayor.

When I was in business, I had the pleasure of riding in a plane with him. Our plane was waiting for departure, and there were two seats in front me waiting for -- they were empty. And very soon after that, the stewardess escorted Prince and a member of his entourage.

So, that's the only time I had an encounter. I did greet him, hello, but as mayor of Chanhassen, I have never had reason to or occasion to meet him.

QUESTION: Sheriff?

OLSON: We would see Prince from a law enforcement standpoint occasionally. He would have concerts at Paisley Park, and we would help with some traffic assistance and those kinds of things.

He lived in Chanhassen for a long time and had two different residences that he lived in, not counting Paisley Park itself. So he had been a longtime member of the community and really a good neighbor for everybody.


QUESTION: You said there's no reason to believe it was because of a suicide. Is there any reason to believe that foul play was involved?

OLSON: We have no reason to believe at this time it's a suicide. The rest of it is under investigation.

QUESTION: Have you talked to his personal doctor, and couldn't a lot of this -- the questions around medication, be cleared up by talking to his doctor?

OLSON: That is going to be part of the investigation, as we will certainly have contact with any medical personnel that he's had contact with.

QUESTION: So, again, have you talked to his doctor?

OLSON: This investigation is 29 hours' old.

Our investigators are currently working on it. [16:15:02] I have not talked to them in the past however long. So, I don't know specifically who they have talked to and how they haven't at this point.


OLSON: I don't have that information right now, I don't know. He was on the first floor, whoever asked that question over there.

REPORTER: Sheriff?

OLSON: Yes, ma'am.

REPORTER: Are there any rumors you'd like to dispel about the nature of his death or any part of the investigation?

OLSON: You know, I don't know if I can dispel all of the rumors out there. You know, this is under investigation. And -- yes, this is under investigation.

REPORTER: One more question. Was a search warrant issued?

OLSON: We did do a search warrant, yes. And that also would be normal protocol. Paisley Park is very large. It's hard to say who had control or who could have given us permission to process that scene.

So, we just thought it would be safer and better for us to get a search warrant on the front end to do that. So, yes. We did get a search warrant.

REPORTER: What is the search warrant?

OLSON: The search warrant has not been filed as of yet and will be filed in the next week and a half or so.

REPORTER: So, the request you made, what was it for?

OLSON: To process the scene at Paisley Park. And -- or process Paisley Park and I don't have a copy of that search warrant in front of me.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) representative from the medical examiner's office, I want to ask you, the procedure you followed, (INAUDIBLE) sometimes they release initial preliminary information that has nothing to do with the toxicology test. For example, how long he had been dead when they found him. Are you going to have at least a preliminary report on some initial information before we get the toxicology?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The short answer is no. The explanation is that we are here in the capacity as serving the Carver County sheriff's office as part of their investigative team. And so, we will complete our results and on behalf of the Midwest medical examiner's office, the office will not release any information until our results are complete. It is determined by the sheriff what his office chooses to release, whether it is preliminary as it comes in or when it is complete.

REPORTER: His body was (INAUDIBLE) that is his only blood relative left?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His body was released to his family.

REPORTER: Do you not have a preliminary (INAUDIBLE) or are you not willing to share?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our results are pending.

REPORTER: What do you expect the timeline to be for your report?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could be days depending on the type of tests and most likely weeks to have the complete set of results available to us and that's when Midwest medical examiner's office would release it.

REPORTER: Sheriff, how many people do you have on this case and how many agencies working together to put this together?

OLSON: We've got, you know, three, four agencies working on this and I've got a number of detectives that are working on it. This is a very large -- let me rephrase that. You know, this is a high-profile case for us. But the county continues -- life in the county continues to go on and there are also other cases that we have that we are currently working on. I'm not sure how many detectives I have working specifically on this case right now.

Yes, ma'am?

REPORTER: So, the plane landed in Illinois, we know that. When he refused a room at the hospital as the reports indicate now, are you looking into any -- was there anything unusual whenever he landed that you can talk about and that you know about?

OLSON: I don't know -- I know as much about that currently that you do from reading the paper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can address that for a moment.

OLSON: OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So again, speaking on behalf of our chief medical examiner and when we say that we're going to be doing a complete exam, that not only includes the present state of the body that is brought to us but also the medical history of the individual, the family medical history of individual. So, those types of things will be encompassed in the medical examiner's report that will be delivered to the sheriff for his investigation.

REPORTER: And which would include reaching back to Illinois?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will include his medical history, his social history and his family's medical history as well.

REPORTER: Do you have authority to get those medical records? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would assume they would request them for this


OLSON: Yes, between us and the medical examiner, absolutely. We do have access to those.

REPORTER: Is (INAUDIBLE) helping you with this investigation at all?

OLSON: At this point, we have not reached out to the BCA for assistance with this.

REPORTER: Is the Prince family cooperating with this investigation? Are they pretty willing and helping? I talked to a couple of family members yesterday and they said they are trying to keep a lot of things quiet.

[16:20:01] Are they working with you in any way or --

OLSON: Yes. I've had contact with Prince's family and Prince's representatives and they have been very cooperative. We haven't had any problems with that at all.

REPORTER: When you say you see no obvious signs of trauma, what does that mean? What would be a sign of trauma? Like what is it that you're --

OLSON: A sign of trauma would be some sign of violence or something violent had happened. There was no sign of that at all.

REPORTER: Sheriff, what happens to Paisley Park? Does he have a will?

OLSON: That will be up to the estate. I don't -- I'm not privy to that.


Hang on one second.

REPORTER: How long will the sheriff's office take a presence at Paisley Park, have the roadways closed and how long will crowds be able to gather outside there?

OLSON: We'll allow crowds to gather as long as -- they are on park's property there and that's part of Paisley's property there. And we'll allow them to gather as long as Paisley Park's OK. We'll re-evaluate that until Monday morning probably, anyway and see where we are at what what's going on.

REPORTER: Road closures continue until Monday?

OLSON: Yes, that road is going to be closed up until Monday.


REPORTER: Could you describe to us exactly what sort of tests on any case when there's a un-witnessed death?

OLSON: Was she talking to you? I'm sorry. I'll get out of your way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially, it will be tissue samples done and toxicology samples done based on blood draws and that's the most I'm going to say about it at this end.

REPORTER: What is the step to the toxicology test that you would normally undertake?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A full spectrum and that's the most I'm going to say about it.

REPORTER: Sheriff, when you talk about the last time that he was seen was Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., was he out or was that just him being at home by members of his family, out and about in the community?

OLSON: Somebody dropped him off at home about 8:00 that night.

REPORTER: Staff members that saw him last? There was an acquaintance that last saw him?

OLSON: Yes, that's correct. Those acquaintances said he was with the (INAUDIBLE)

REPORTER: Sheriff, is it unusual that he would be the only occupant of this huge complex? You said that staffers tried to get in contact with him and were unable to do that. Were there no security personnel?

OLSON: Prince is a very private person. And I don't think that that would be unusual for him to be there by himself.

REPORTER: Sheriff, you mentioned staff was trying to meet him. The person who made the 911 call, do you know their relationship?

OLSON: 911 caller information is private and I can't share that. Again, 911 callers are private.

REPORTER: Sheriff, do you know how he was dressed at the time, if he was in day clothes or sleeping clothes or overnight clothes --

OLSON: He was in clothes. I can't say I know for sure at this point what he sleeps in versus what he goes out in, so I don't know whether those are sleep clothes or what type of clothes. You know, he was in his short, he had pants, that's some sort. He was dressed.

REPORTER: Sheriff, was there an elevator phone and, if so, when was the last time this elevator was inspected? Do we have that information?

OLSON: I don't believe there was an elevator phone. I don't think so.

Yes? REPORTER: Are there are things outside of Walgreens and Paisley that's of interest to you (INAUDIBLE)? For instance, the plane he travels on.

OLSON: If there are things that lead us in that direction, sure. We will certainly do that.


OLSON: Again, it's 29 hours old, our detectives are, working on it and I'm not sure where they are currently.

REPORTER: On that note, have you requested additional search warrants and, if so, where and when?

OLSON: We haven't done any additional at this point.

REPORTER: Prince apparently had other homes. Do you know how long he was living at Paisley Park? Or how long he considered as home address?

OLSON: You know, Prince moved around a little bit and would travel quite often. I can't say for sure how long he had been there. But he did stay there frequently and considered that I think his main residence.

REPORTER: Sheriff, you said that there were signs that he did collapse in the elevator. Was there any signs that he may have hit his head or was it just a simple collapse?

OLSON: There was no obvious signs of trauma to the body that we observed. Now, I don't know at this point what the medical examiner may have found during the autopsy, if anything would have showed. But there was nothing at all that indicated obvious sign of trauma.


[16:25:12] OLSON: Go ahead now.

REPORTER: Was there a cell phone there and was there any kind of indication that he had reached for his cell phone or made any attempt to make a call?

OLSON: I don't recall seeing a cell phone in the close proximity. I don't recall a cell phone in the close proximity to where he was at.

REPORTER: If some of his staff had cell phones, would you be checking their records or looking to see whether they took pictures?

OLSON: That would be part of our investigation and I don't want to share that at this time.

REPORTER: Sheriff, were you there yourself? Did you see the body yourself?

OLSON: I was there for a period of time yesterday. REPORTER: When it was first discovered, were you there with the first


OLSON: No. I had other things that were going on.

REPORTER: How would you describe the mood? Could you detect a mood inside Paisley Park at that moment when obviously at that moment they knew that Prince was dead? What was the moment inside?

OLSON: You know, it was certainly somber. You know, he was a friend, I think, to the people that was there as well as being an employer and they were certainly shook by what had happened. Sure.

REPORTER: Sheriff, is any staff member under investigation? Is there any potential criminal charges?

OLSON: This all continues to be under investigation. And we'll do a complete and thorough investigation and it's better with this for us to do it well that for us to do it fast. So we're going to do the best job that we can.

REPORTER: Sheriff, does your department carry the antidote for opiate or heroine overdose as standard procedure and was that established on this call (ph)?

OLSON: Our officers have been carrying Narcan. We've been carrying for approximately two years, and that was not used at all yesterday. I heard somebody over in this direction.



REPORTER: The person who made the 911 call, staff member apparently from the transcript did not know the address, didn't know the address where they were?

OLSON: I don't know if that would be unusual with that for not knowing the address. I'm sure they knew where it was. A lot of -- I'm sure there's probably a number of people out here that don't necessarily know the address to their news buildings and so on. So I don't think that would be unusual.

REPORTER: Sheriff, was (INAUDIBLE) allowed in Minnesota have Narcan or that type of emergency stuff --

OLSON: You know, there's some discussion currently going on with that from a legislative standpoint. I don't believe at this point that private citizens can have Narcan.

REPORTER: Just law enforcement?

OLSON: Law enforcement and firefighter can carry it. It was something that went through the legislature last year, the year before.

REPORTER: Sheriff, this is a question you a Prince fan yourself? Did you like his music?

OLSON: Yes. Certainly I'm the same age as Prince is. And I know his music well and, sure, I like Prince's music. Yes.


REPORTER: Any music playing when the police arrived? When was the last song they've heard?

OLSON: I did not hear any music on in the residence at all or in the building at all.

REPORTER: How many employees were there when you arrived?

OLSON: Three. There were three people that were there.

REPORTER: Are you asking anything from the public?

OLSON: You know, I would ask for -- again, Prince was a very private person and I would ask the public and everybody to respect that privacy and treat that with dignity as well as all of you with that.

So -- I -- one more question and I'm going to be done.


OLSON: We have ten days legally within which to file a search warrant with the courts. And I don't know this time when that might be done, so we have ten days to do that.

I want to thank everybody for coming. This is certainly a big event internationally and nationally and I can tell you that we are going to leave no stone unturned with this and make sure that the public knows what happened. So --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I make a comment, too?

OLSON: Yes. Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many of you were a fan? A lot?

REPORTER: Yes, of course.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot. I think that, you know, we would like to extend our thanks to everyone for showing such respect for this situation. For our generation, he was the song book and the narrative for some of the greatest moments in our individual lives, much like Elvis Presley and Ira Gershwin before him.