Former Deutsche Bank AG executive Brian Mulligan is trying to limit what jurors hear about his admitted use of “bath salts,” a synthetic stimulant, as his claims that two Los Angeles policemen beat him go to trial.
U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner in Los Angeles is scheduled to decide today, at the start of trial, whether the jury will hear a recorded conversation Mulligan had with a police officer, days before the alleged beating on May 15, 2012, in which he acknowledged using the drug, also known as White Lightning, at least 20 times in the preceding six months.
Mulligan, 54, a former vice chairman of media and telecommunications investment banking at Europe’s largest investment bank by revenue, last year sued police officers James Nichols and John Miller, as well as the City of Los Angeles, seeking $20 million in damages over claims he was beaten so badly he required emergency facial surgery.
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 the audio recording of Mulligan asking a police officer in Glendale, California, for advice about “White Lightning.”
The police officers on trial say the jury should hear the recording because Mulligan in the conversation exhibits the same “bizarre and paranoid behavior” as he did during the night they picked him up at a college campus after receiving 911 calls from people in the neighborhood.
Mulligan has said the officers want to use the recording to unfairly portray him as a “crazy” drug addict, which he says he isn’t. Mulligan argued that because he has already acknowledged in pretrial questioning that he used bath salts 20 times from November 2011 to April 2012, the tape has no probative value.
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 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.
The jury will first decide whether the policemen used excessive force, and if Mulligan wins on that claim, the panel will consider whether the city is liable for negligence, based on separate misconduct allegations that were made against Nichols, and what damages Mulligan deserves.
Mulligan claims in court papers he went to visit a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle Rock to buy gel caps containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient of marijuana. He didn’t obtain the gel caps and at about 10:20 p.m. encountered the police officers, who had received calls about a man fitting his description.
By Mulligan’s account, after Nichols and Miller found he wasn’t intoxicated and wasn’t committing a crime, they drove him in handcuffs to his car, which was parked near the dispensary.
After searching the car, the officers, who had refused to let Mulligan call his wife or a taxi, took him to a motel and told him to spend the night there, Mulligan alleges. One of the officers used an obscenity and told him he’d be “dead” if he left, according to the complaint.
Mulligan left the motel after the police had gone, and was walking down the street when the two officers saw him again. The officers chased him when he ran away and Nichols hit Mulligan in the face with his baton, shattering his nose, according to the complaint. When he was handcuffed and sitting on the curb, Nichols broke his shoulder blade, Mulligan claims.
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,” 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.
Klausner this month threw out Mulligan’s false imprisonment and police negligence claims, saying he hadn’t provided sufficient evidence for those to go to trial.
The judge also threw out a retaliation claim against the city. He allowed Mulligan to proceed to trial with a negligent supervision claim against the city based on evidence of other allegations of misconduct made against Nichols.
The case is Mulligan v. Nichols, 2:13-cv-00836, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).