Prince Death Investigation Focusing On Painkillers

The Prince death investigation is currently underway under a wave of rumor and speculation mainly focused on his use of painkillers. As fans from around the world grieve the death of Prince, there are a lot of questions as to the exact details of what occurred during the hours before his death, as well as the medical emergency that Prince experienced when flying back to Minneapolis from two concerts in Atlanta less than a week before his death.

There has been a lot of discussion around Prince's use of opioids. He was seen going to a local Walgreens to pick up his prescription hours before his death. While the StarTribune has a close source that they will not identify, the Twin Cities newspaper has been covering Mike Padden, the attorney for two of Prince's half-siblings, Lorna Nelson and Duane Nelson. Padden has been in the media and has stated that these clients had spoken of opioid abuse and cocaine use by Prince. Some in the media have not considered this witness as credible and are not taking this information seriously as Duane has had several lawsuits against his half-brother regarding a termination of employment. As both of Prince's siblings have since died, this information could be old and invalid, if at all true. This is not current information that could legally be used to determine the cause of death. Most importantly, Padden is giving out this news second hand. Why any reputable news service should take what he says as truth is questionable.

One rumor that must be quashed is a now viral misquote by Prince's brother-in-law Maurice Phillips. The husband of Prince's sister Tyka and possible heir to the entire estate told the Star Tribune that he was "misquoted." The media reports claiming that he said Prince stayed up for days before his death was a misquote. He is no longer speaking to the press and is letting the police run their investigation into the death of his famous brother-in-law.

"We just want to stay out of it and let the police handle it. She's [Tyka] still in the grieving process."
Less than a week before Prince was found unresponsive inside the elevator at his Paisley Park home and studio, the musician had another serious emergency. After performing two shows in a single evening, Prince's private plane needed to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, because Prince was experiencing a medical emergency. Although Prince's staff describes this incident as the result of the flu, the Star Tribune has reposted a source that stated Prince's plane made "an emergency landing in Moline because he was overdosing from an opioid." The Star Tribune also stated that Prince "was given a shot of the opioid antidote Narcan by emergency personnel; he was taken to a hospital, but left within a few hours."

Audio of the call from Prince's plane is available at TMZ.

On the morning of his death, after a missed appointment with his holistic doctor, Prince was found unresponsive in the elevator. First responders were called in around 10 a.m. local time. Three people, currently unidentified, were there when paramedics arrived. Although some of the medical responders were carrying the antidote Narcan, the drug that revived Prince just a few days before, the responders instead tried using CPR on Prince in an unsuccessful attempt to try to revive him.

There has been much speculation as to why Narcan, the miracle overdose antidote, was not administered by local paramedics. The Star Tribune spoke to Rock Island Fire Chief Jeff Yerkey about the use of Narcan in unresponsive patients. He confirmed that in administering Narcan, there are "no real side effects or harm in giving it." Yerkey further explained that even if Narcan is administered to someone who did not take an opioid, there would not be adverse affects. Narcan is easily administered by injection or nasally and is even recommended for caregivers of those with an opioid addiction.

While the current assumption has been that Prince was taking the opioid Percocet for chronic hip and ankle pain, it's unknown if paramedics were aware of his opioid use. The final results of the autopsy should reveal more details about Prince's condition when paramedics first saw him, as well as other possible details of Prince's last moments before his untimely death.

Some friends of Prince are denying any sort of drug abuse. Sheila E., a close friend and collaborator, said she did not believe the death of Prince was drug-related.
"Never seen him take anything, not even aspirin, in the 38 years I've known him."
Yet, Sheila E. told Kare11 that Prince most definitely suffered from pain.
"I mean, you think about all the years he was jumping off those risers. They were not low -- they were very, very high -- and to jump off that... First of all, the Purple Rain tour and the way that they were stacked, he had those heels on. We did a year of touring [and] for him to jump off of that -- just an entire year would have messed up his knees."
And then she adds the definitive statement.
"He was in pain all the time, but he was a performer."
How soon will we know the results of the investigation into Prince's death? Carver County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jason Kamerud said this investigation will take a while.
"We are quite a ways out."
Until then, there will be much speculation about the final hours of Prince's life. Right now, the police are focusing on the possibility that painkillers were responsible for his untimely death.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]