Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A former Deutsche Bank AG executive recounted before a federal jury the “nightmare” confrontation he had with Los Angeles police officers that left him bruised and bloodied in a hospital.
Brian Mulligan, 54, testified about the “pure fear” he experienced the night in May 2012 when he was trying to run from two police 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 in the Eagle Rock neighborhood.
“I was hoping for something edible I would take before going on a plane so I could sleep,” Mulligan, dressed in a navy pinstripe suit, yesterday told the jurors in downtown Los Angeles.
Mulligan claimed in the complaint he filed last year against the police and the city that the officers used excessive force. He alleged that one of the officers struck him in the face with a baton, shattering his nose in 15 places, and then broke his scapula twice when he was seated on the ground.
Mulligan’s lawyer, Louis “Skip” Miller, showed the jury photos of his client’s swollen and bloody face taken at the hospital, as he questioned him on the opening day of trial. The jury also heard Mulligan screaming in the background on a radio call recorded by the police, asking for an ambulance.
Mulligan testified he wasn’t under the influence of any illegal substance the night of the encounter. He said he had taken “bath salts,” a legal synthetic stimulant, about two weeks earlier.
The former executive, who Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank fired following the publicity of his altercation with the police, said he couldn’t find the gel caps he was looking for. Outside the dispensary, he was apprehended by a female police officer who, he said, told him to go inside a nearby apartment building to talk to “an agency.”
Mulligan testified that he got “incredibly scared” going up the back stairs to the fourth floor of the graffiti-covered building, where he saw some altercation. He said he left the building and didn’t dare to go back to his car, walking instead to nearby Occidental College for “sanctuary.’
At the college, Mulligan encountered Los Angeles Police Department officers James Nichols and John Miller, he said. Nichols called him a meth-head and crack-head and gave him a field sobriety test, which he passed, Mulligan said. The officers first took him back to his car, which they searched, and then to a nearby motel, he testified.
After the officers left him at the motel, he fled. At about 1 a.m., Mulligan said, he saw the same officers while he has walking down the street and ran away because he feared for his life. One of the officers caught up with him and hit him in the face, he said.
‘‘Officer James Nichols hit me with his baton square across the bridge of my nose,’’ Mulligan testified. ‘‘It was the worst pain I have ever felt.’’
Denise Zimmerman, a lawyer representing Miller and the City of Los Angeles, said in her opening statement that the police officers were responding to 911 calls regarding a man trying to break into parked cars and screaming incoherently.
Nichols and Miller found Mulligan in a disoriented state and sweating in a pink shirt that was ‘‘misbuttoned,’’ Zimmerman said. Mulligan told the officers he was on ‘‘White Lightning,’’ a synthetic form of methamphetamine, and that he hadn’t slept for four days, according to Zimmerman.
‘‘He didn’t even know what kind of car he had,” Zimmerman told the jurors.
The officers found Mulligan’s car by driving around the neighborhood and clicking the remote button on his ignition key until they saw blinking lights on a parked car, Zimmerman said. Inside his car, they found cash rolled up in wads all over the front and a bag with prescription drugs and two containers with White Lightning.
Nichols and Miller left Mulligan at a motel at his own request, she said.
“Hey Miller, come here,” Mulligan said while he was in the back of the police cruiser and the officers were searching his car, according to Zimmerman. “I just want to go somewhere and sleep it off.”
When they ran into Mulligan again about an hour later, they thought he was trying to carjack a minivan waiting at a traffic light, Zimmerman said. They went after him and, when they found him hiding behind a parked car, Mulligan attacked the officers, according to the attorney.
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.
The case is Mulligan v. Nichols, 2:13-cv-00836, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
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