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Billy Jack...Or Better Yet, In the Words of Fishbone…

What distortion could you let your pen forget today? What misfortune left your heart so broken you only say Words intended 2 belittle or dismay? What if I say you lie?[1]

Writing this piece because misleading headlines truly bug me. Though some writers may mean no harm, depending on the subject matter, unnecessary worry, concern, hysteria, etc., can arise out of the misuse of words intentional, unintentional or otherwise. Obviously sometimes the aforementioned reaction is the goal. Why is it so difficult for some to state facts as they are without trying to force audiences in one direction or another? News is meant to be informational yet these days tends to lean toward the emotional, the sensational, thus my refusal to depend solely upon it for my own edification.

There have been two headlines this week that have caused some reaction/overreaction in the Purple Community. Media has Jay-Z/Tidal plotting[2] a Prince Originals Release Party, and Kirk Johnson being “questioned by lawyers in wrongful death suit.” Ugh. Most readers just grab a little bit of what they feel like reading and run with it. Headlines like this depend on that. I’m getting into it based on some discussions I’ve had in the past 24 hours. This blog will break down the Kirky J headline.

A few publications have posted the less misleading headline, “Prince’s former bodyguard deposed in Wrongful Death Suit.” Now some of you may not get that right away. That’s why I’m here. J The way the headline is received by many, it appears Kirk Johnson is being called in for some sort of wrongdoing. In actuality, Mr. Johnson was called in as a witness, and provided testimony but is not a party (he is not the plaintiff or a defendant at this point) to the case.

To be deposed is in a sense to be questioned, but it is a form of discovery (fact-finding process) used by attorneys to get evidence (here witness testimony) on which to build their case prior to trial. The civil lawsuit was filed in fall of 2018 and is set for trial in April 2020. The defendants are medical care providers (Iowa Health System aka Trinity Medical Center, Dr. Howard Kornfeld, North Memorial Healthcare, Dr. Michael Schulenberg, & Walgreen Co.)

The complaint claims the medical entities, among other things, failed to diagnose and treat Prince for opioid addiction, and that the care provided fell below the standard of acceptable medical practice, thus contributing to his death (negligence). As to Walgreen Co., the claim includes dispensing prescription medications not valid for a legitimate medical purpose. Side note: He was an uber-private celebrity whom most of us are aware sometimes made demands and also refused medical treatment at more than one pivotal moment in his life. Waiting to see how this factors into the final determination of fault.

The complaint asks for what one – or at least what I would expect: damages. So, ultimately, the medical care providers, if found to be at fault would have to pay money judgments to the family. Maybe the case settles prior to trial. Who knows? Is there any result at trial with the medical care providers that brings the justice sought?

Some folks have been going real hard with ‘his day finally coming’ and whatnot. I understand wanting justice. A civil lawsuit against parties who are not Mr. Johnson will not likely result in him being brought to justice. Maybe the thought process for some is that he’ll slip up and say something on the record that can be used against him in a criminal case? To be sure, there is no statute of limitations on murder, if it came to that, so maybe you have something there. I don’t know. I’m not talking guilt or innocence. I’m discussing what happens in civil cases and what does not.

I can’t say what anyone involved did or did not do, because I was not there. I do think it’s easy to look at photos of P and know something’s amiss. I do think friends sometimes enable. I do think people do what they have to do to stay “in the circle,” sometimes (cuz a brotha would dismiss folks with a quickness) and let things slide when they shouldn’t. But these are all just musings. I don’t know any of it to be true, thus I won’t be trying anyone in the court of public opinion today or any other day.

Still Waiting,




Always on Our Minds ~ Forever in Our Hearts


[1] Prince, Billy Jack Bitch, The Gold Experience, NPG Records/Warner Bros. 1995, samples Fishbone, Lyin’ Ass Bitch, Sony Music Entertainment 1985.

[2] “Plot.” Cambridge Dictionary. (May 30, 2019) (a secret plan to do something that is wrong, harmful or illegal).

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