Minneapolis prosecutor says investigation into how the musician got the fentanyl that killed him is over and that overdose was accidental
No criminal charges will be filed over the death of Prince, the superstar musician who died from an accidental fentanyl overdose after taking counterfeit pills he likely thought were a weaker painkiller, a local prosecutor announced on Thursday.
Following a two-year investigation into the death of 57-year-old Prince on 21 April 2016, with the inquiry described as extensive, painstaking and thorough, Minnesotas Carver county district attorney Mark Metz said his team had found no evidence to justify a prosecution in the case.
In all likelihood Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him, Metz said, adding that investigators had been unable to determine who had provided the musician with pills that had been labelled as prescription opioid painkillers. There was no evidence to suggest any of Princes close associates were aware he had consumed counterfeit pills either, Metz said.
Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, was found unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate in a Minneapolis suburb early in the morning two years ago, following a massive overdose. He had apparently suffered a series of more minor overdoses not long before the day he died.
The announcement on Thursday came just hours after federal prosecutors reached a settlement with a doctor who was accused of illegally prescribing an opioid for Prince and agreed to pay $30,000 over a civil violation.
The settlement, dated Monday, does not mention Prince by name or make any references to the investigation into his death. However, previously released search warrants say local Dr Michael Todd Schulenberg told authorities he had prescribed an oxycodone-based prescription opioid to Prince on 14 April that year and put it under the name of Princes bodyguard and close friend, Kirk Johnson, for Princes privacy.
The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing.
The painkillers prescribed by Schulenberg were not responsible for Princes death, Metz said. The prosecutor added that the musician and producer had secretly become addicted to painkillers after suffering significant pain for a number of years, and taking medication for a number of years.
The announcement effectively brings to a close both the local and federal investigations into the incident, with unnamed federal law enforcement sources telling local news the status of the case was now inactive unless new information came to light.
Princes death is a tragic example that opioid addiction and overdose deaths do not discriminate, no matter the demographic, Metz said.
Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller between 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin.
In 2016, more than 63,600 people in the US died over overdose in the US. This included 42,249 that involved an opioid like fentanyl, marking an average of 115 opioid deaths every day in what has become a national public health crisis in the US.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us