Former Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) executive Brian Mulligan failed to convince a jury that Los Angeles police used excessive force in 2012 when they allegedly kidnapped him, brought him to a motel and broke his nose in 15 places after beating him with a baton.
A jury in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday rejected claims in Mulligan’s lawsuit that the officers violated his civil rights and committed assault and battery. During the three-day trial, police countered that they confronted the Frankfurt-based bank’s former vice-chairman of media and telecommunications investment banking after receiving reports of a man trying to break into parked cars.
“This is a case in which the truth prevailed,” Peter Ferguson, the lawyer for officer James Nichols, said after the verdict. “These officers absolutely didn’t do anything wrong.”
Mulligan, 54, testified at trial about the “pure fear” he experienced the night in May 2012 when he was trying to run from the two officers, who he said took him to a motel against his will after he went to buy some cannabis gel caps at a medical marijuana dispensary. He alleged that one of the officers hit him in the face with a baton, shattering his nose, and then broke his shoulder blade twice when he was seated on the ground.
Mulligan initially sought $20 million in damages in his February 2013 complaint, which also named the city of Los Angeles as a defendant.
Louis “Skip” Miller, Mulligan’s attorney, declined to comment on the verdict.
Mulligan lost his job in November 2012, seven months after the incident in the Eagle Rock neighborhood north of downtown Los Angeles, and weeks after the Police Protective League provided media with an audio recording of Mulligan asking a police officer in Glendale, California, for advice about “White Lightning,” a synthetic stimulant.
In the recorded conversation, and again in the trial, Mulligan acknowledged using the drug, also known as bath salts, at least 20 times in the preceding six months.
Bath salts, or synthetic cathinones, are often labeled not for human consumption to avoid regulation. They can have effects similar to amphetamines and can cause insomnia, paranoia, delusions and panic attacks, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It’s listed as a “drug of concern” and isn’t illegal, the DEA said in its 2011 “Drugs of Abuse” publication.
According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, abuse of such unregulated drugs is “growing across the country.” As of July 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers cited 4,137 reports of exposure to “bath salts” compared to 302 for all of 2010, the office said.
Yesterday’s verdict was announced about three hours after the jury asked to examine the baton allegedly used to strike Mulligan.
The officers said in court papers that they were responding to 911 calls about a white male wearing a pink shirt and khaki pants trying to break into cars. They say they found Mulligan roaming the campus of Occidental College in Eagle Rock and that he was “disheveled” and sweating profusely and didn’t appear to know where he was.
The officers believed he wasn’t fit to drive because of his confused state and took him to a hotel at his own request, they said in a court filing.
An hour and a half after they had left him, the officers saw Mulligan again, dragging a metal trash can across the street, they said. When they ordered him to get out of the street, Mulligan tried to enter a minivan that was stopped at a traffic light, according to the police.
They said they chased Mulligan and that he took a “combative stance” and lunged at one of them. He continued to kick the officers after he had fallen to the ground, and was trying to spit at them and bite them, according to the officers’ court filing.
“All force used on Mulligan was consistent with their police training, and was reasonable in light of Mulligan’s aggressive and combative actions,” they said.
The case is Mulligan v. Nichols, 2:13-cv-00836, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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