Prince didn’t know he was taking fentanyl, a painkiller 30-50 times stronger than heroin, at the time of his death. Still, citing a lack of evidence, Carver County (Minn.) Attorney Mark Metz announced in a news conference on Thursday that there will be no criminal charges filed in relation to Prince’s overdose death.
As CNN reports, Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose after taking counterfeit Vicodin pills that were laced with the deadly opiate.
“Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,” Metz said. But he also added that there was no evidence showing how he got the pills, and no evidence that those around him knew about the pills’ makeup.
“The bottom line is that we simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime related to Prince’s death,” said Metz, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The 57-year-old icon was found unresponsive in an elevator at his home and recording studio, Paisley Park, outside Minneapolis, in April 2016.
In his final years, Metz said, Prince had been “experiencing significant pain” and had been taking painkillers. According to NBC News, investigators found prescription medications throughout Prince’s home, many not in their original bottles. However, Prince had no known Vicodin or fentanyl prescription, Metz said.
The prosecutor also dismissed the idea that Prince’s death was the result of a conspiracy.
“There is no evidence that the pill or pills that actually killed Prince were prescribed by a doctor,” he said. “There is also no evidence to suggest any other sinister motive, intent or conspiracy to murder Prince.
“The evidence suggests that Prince had long suffered significant pain, became addicted to pain medications but took efforts to protect his privacy,” he added.
Prince’s cousin and drummer, Charles “Chazz” Smith, said he was outraged about the decision, but he didn’t blame law enforcement.
“I know the DEA and the investigators and all of the law enforcement people went through Prince’s house with a fine-tooth comb and conducted this investigation to the best of their abilities. My hats off to them,” Smith said. “I’m not outraged at them. I’m outraged by people in Prince’s inner circle not speaking up about what really happened. Those people who were around him when he died, they know what went on.”
While no one will be found criminally liable for Prince’s death, CNN notes that a Minnesota doctor who saw Prince twice in the weeks leading up to his accidental overdose agreed to pay $30,000 to settle civil allegations that he prescribed drugs to an associate of Prince’s knowing that the famed musician himself would take them. The medication in question—a one-time prescription of Percocet—was prescribed to Prince’s former drummer and longtime friend Kirk Johnson.
Fans who were in attendance at today’s press conference expressed disappointment in the outcome. Kimberlee Andrus, a stay-at-home mom from Austin, Minn., told the Star Tribune that she “honestly [believes] there was foul play, and I’m not the only one.” She’s spent the last two years keeping up with updates about Prince’s death and the circumstances leading up to.
“I lost my brother,” Andrus told the Star Tribune. “I wanted to see if justice was brought to someone I love and cared dearly about for many years.”