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Michael Jackson hearing: Paparazzi, fans hampered paramedics from getting stricken pop star to hospital

January 6, 2011 | 10:58 am

A paramedic who tried in vain to save Michael Jackson’s life testified Thursday that an unruly crowd of paparazzi and tourists outside the pop star’s home hampered efforts to get to the hospital.

“It’s a circus out there. It’s unbelievable,” recalled Los Angeles City Fire Department paramedic Richard Senneff of the scene outside Jackson’s Holmby Hills mansion June 25, 2009.

The witness testified on the second day of testimony at a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Dr. Conrad Murray for involuntary manslaughter. Senneff said that the ambulance driver had trouble navigating away from the residence because of a throng that included passengers of a tour bus and photographers with “big cameras, little cameras, video cameras, still cameras.”

At one point, a man with a video camera ran alongside the ambulance holding a camera with a large lens against the window. “It just seemed wrong,” he said. Under questioning by a defense lawyer, Senneff said Murray wanted to put a “central line” to restart Jackson’s heart, but that medics did not have equipment or training to do so. He said the singer did not respond to two rounds of drugs to revive him and hospital officials told him over the radio to “call” Jackson’s death, but that neither he nor Murray wanted to do so. “I said, 'Be advised, this is a very high-profile VIP,' ” Senneff said.

The 50-year-old singer was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center. Senneff said rescue workers had gone “above and beyond” the call of duty in the field not because Jackson was a celebrity, but “because it was someone’s son.” Katherine Jackson, the singer’s mother, listened intently in the courtroom gallery. Judge Michael Pastor also heard from a second paramedic who, like Senneff, said that Murray initially claimed he had not given his patient any medication.

Martin Blount said the denial struck him as odd because he saw a hypodermic needle and three bottles of lidocaine in the room. Murray, he said, “scooped up” the bottles and placed them in a bag before they left for the hospital. “Did you ever see those bottles again,” Deputy Dist. Atty. David Walgren asked. “No, sir,” Blount replied. Murray, 57, has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors accuse Murray of an “extreme deviation” from the standard of medical care by, among other things, giving Jackson the surgical anesthetic propofol to treat insomnia.


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-- Harriet Ryan