Jury Clears LAPD Officers of Wrongdoing in Lawsuit by Former Deutsche Bank Executive
The two officers did not use excessive force in dealing with Brian Mulligan.
A federal court jury Friday cleared two Los Angeles Police Department officers of any wrongdoing in a lawsuit alleging they used excessive force against a former Deutsche Bank executive who said he was handcuffed, taken to a hotel and beaten with a baton.
Attorneys for the two officers insisted that Brian Mulligan was out of control on “bath salts” and attacked them on May 15, 2012. After a three-day trial, jurors deliberated for about two and a half hours before finding in favor of the city and officers.
Mulligan, a resident of La Canada Flintridge, had been seeking up to $20 million in damages. He declined to comment as he left the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. John Miller, one of the two LAPD officers in the case, was smiling outside court. “I'm just extremely happy right now,” he said. “We did nothing wrong and now we can go on with our lives.”
Miller said he had been working the night shift throughout the trial and would be putting on his uniform again tonight. Mulligan testified Tuesday that he was walking after visiting an Eagle Rock medical marijuana dispensary when he was stopped by the officers, given a field sobriety test, handcuffed for no reason, taken to a Highland Park motel and beaten.
Although both sides agreed on some aspects of the bizarre story, a defense attorney told jurors that Mulligan, 54, was dangerously out of control and in the midst of “drug-induced psychosis” on the night of the encounter.
After running from the motel, Mulligan was discovered by the officers, who were responding to calls from residents of the area, dragging a trash can down the street and trying to get into a stranger's car, defense attorneys alleged.
Mulligan became a “growling, frothing, angry man” and lunged at officers James Nichols and Miller, Assistant City Attorney Denise Zimmerman told the eight-person jury.
“They were trying to figure out what was wrong with him and how they could help him,” she said. “They can't just let him go—it's their job to deal with the Brian Mulligans of the world.”
But Mulligan's attorney, Skip Heller, countered that his client had the bad luck that night to come into contact with Miller and, especially, Nichols, whom he called a “rogue cop ... a sadistic, punishing individual.”
The attorney was barred from telling jurors that Nichols is facing a disciplinary hearing in connection with an investigation involving coerced sex with women. One of the women in that case recently won a $575,000 settlement from the city.
Mulligan admitted during the trial to having used bath salts, a legal drug formulated to act like methamphetamine, 20 times in the months prior to the incident, but said he had not taken the substance in the two weeks before the night in question.
Heller showed the panel graphic photos of Mulligan's injuries and played police radio calls in which pained screams could be heard in the background. Against defense objections, Heller introduced the bloody shirt his client wore on the night of the incident.
Mulligan alleged that Nichols hit him in the face with his baton, swinging it like a baseball bat, shattering his nose and knocking him to the pavement.
But both officers testified that Nichols did not have a baton with him when they arrested Mulligan. Zimmerman, who represented the city and Miller, said after the verdict that physical evidence and eyewitness accounts were pivotal in clearing the officers.
“These two police officers went above and beyond that night—and tried to help him,” she said. Before joining Deutsche Bank, Mulligan held management jobs at Fox Television and Universal Pictures.