Ex-exec testifies in suit over violent LAPD arrest


Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 8:35 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles policeman denied Wednesday that he beat a former bank executive with a baton during a bizarre encounter that ended with broken bones and a $20 million lawsuit.

James Nichols told jurors that he had never used his baton in 13 years on the force.

Nichols took the stand after Brian Mulligan, who said that he suffered "mental torture" and physical pain during the May 2012 confrontation with officers.

His excessive-force suit claims he suffered a broken nose and shoulder and other injuries from an unprovoked beating.

The one-time Deutsche Bank official said that he was driven to snort the drug mix known as "bath salts" to deal with sleeping problems and had used it at least 20 times — but not on the night of the encounter.

The mixture can have an effect similar to cocaine or methamphetamine, but Mulligan denied being paranoid during the confrontation.

Nichols, however, painted a portrait of a delusional man who was spotted wandering the street with wads of crumpled $100 bills falling out of his pockets.

"He was covered in sweat. He was very jittery," he said.

Mulligan told the officer that he had taken a type of bath salts called "White Lightning" four days earlier and hadn't slept since, Nichols said.

"He said he was going through a divorce. He was very upset. His children didn't like him," Nichols said.

At Mulligan's demand, officers took him to a hotel, but he later caused a disturbance by claiming someone was hiding in his nightstand, Nichols said.

Nichols said police later confronted Mulligan again after he was seen apparently pulling on car handles and growled when ordered to get on the ground.

Mulligan testified earlier that he told two officers there might be people following him but denied he was paranoid.

Mulligan was followed to the stand by an expert in the biomechanics of accidents, Harry Lincoln Smith of San Antonio, Texas.

Smith, who analyzed evidence for Mulligan's attorney, said he concluded that the facial injuries were caused by baton strikes.

The damage was so extreme that Mulligan's olfactory nerve was destroyed and he cannot smell, Smith said.

Smith also said he measured bruises on Mulligan's back and compared them to the tip of a police baton.

"It's a pretty good match," the witness said.

Mulligan was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, but prosecutors declined to file charges.

A civilian oversight board found the officers' use of force to be appropriate, and a claim against the city over his lost bank job was dismissed. Mulligan also once served as co-chairman of Universal Studios and chief financial officer of Seagram Co.

One officer named in Mulligan's suit is on leave pending a disciplinary hearing over unrelated allegations that he coerced women to have sex. A lawsuit with such allegations by a former drug informant was recently settled for $575,000.