MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After two years of investigations, prosecutors say no one will be charged in connection to the death of a Minnesota music icon.
At a news conference Thursday morning, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said charges would not be filed, saying there was not enough evidence to reasonably convict anyone in Prince’s 2016 overdose death.
Nearly two years ago this week, the Minnesota music icon was found unresponsive in an elevator at his Chanhassen home, Paisley Park. The 57-year-old died of an accidental fentanyl overdose — an opioid painkiller 50 times more powerful than heroin.
In the Thursday news conference, Metz said the pills Prince took were counterfeit Vicodin pills — a legal drug that’s a mix of hydrocodone and acetaminophen — that actually contained fentanyl. Metz said there’s no evidence anyone — including Prince — knew the pills contained the far more potent opioid.
Metz said investigators couldn’t determine where Prince got the fentanyl-laced Vicodin, and therefore couldn’t charge anyone in his overdose death. He also said the notoriously private musician didn’t have a cell phone, making the investigation more difficult.
Prince likely took those same pills when his plane had to make an emergency landing in Illinois, Metz said, though the pills Prince had at the time were never chemically tested. First responders revived the musician on his plane with two doses of Narcan.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota announced the doctor accused of illegally prescribing percocet to Prince has agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation. The doctor prescribed medication under the name of Prince’s close friend and longtime bodyguard Kirk Johnson.
Johnson’s attorney released a statement on the Carver County Attorney’s decision Thursday afternoon:
My client, Kirk Johnson, is relieved that no charges have been filed against him by state or federal authorities. He continues to deny that he had anything to do with the death of his close friend, Prince. Prince’s death was a tragedy that few could experience more deeply than Kirk Johnson. Today’s decision affirms his innocence, and he will continue to mourn and honor his friend every day.
The county attorney’s office combed through evidence at Paisley Park and beyond for the better part of the last two years.
With Thursday’s decision, the previously confidential information is now public. Hundreds of pages of documents were released, including audio clips and several videos:
The first video shows Prince and Johnson leaving Dr. Michael Shulenberg’s office on the evening of April 20.
The second video is from a Walgreens pharmacy, filmed soon after they left Dr. Shulenberg’s office, showing Johnson filling a prescription.
The third video is dashcam footage from a Carver County Sherrif’s deputy arriving at Paisley Park on the morning of April 21.
The next 11 videos show inside Paisley Park on April 21. Several videos show Prince’s body lying outside of an elevator.
GALLERY: Inside Prince’s Vault
Photos inside of Prince’s mythic vault were also included in the documents, showing rows and rows of his musical recordings, as well as bags full of cash and a golden briefcase.
Text messages, including correspondences between Johnson and Dr. Shulenberg, were also released.
Dozens of items were omitted from Thursday’s data release. The items include two recorded statements with Johnson, a recorded statement with Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, as well as autopsy photos and toxicology report data.