Ex-U exec sues L.A., police over use of force

Brian Mulligan seeks $20 million, claims he was beaten without provocation

Former Universal Pictures co-chairman Brian Mulligan is claiming that the Los Angeles Police Department “knowingly harbored among its officers a serial predator” who, along with another officer, severely beat him in a bizarre latenight incident near an Eagle Rock medical marijuana dispensary in May.

Mulligan’s claims are in a $20 million federal suit he filed on Wednesday against the city, the two officers and a representative of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

The case already has drawn heavy media attention, not only for the pictures of Mulligan, most recently a senior executive at Deutsche Bank, with gashes across his face following the incident, but for a tape recorded several days earlier in which he allegedly admitted that he used “bath salts,” the designer street drugs that experts say can produce episodes of paranoia and violent behavior.

But in his suit, Mulligan alleges that he was “minding his own business” on the night of May 15, visiting the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles to fill a prescription of THC at a medical marijuana dispensary.

His suit claims that he was stopped by the LAPD’s James Nichols and his partner, John Miller, who questioned him and gave him a field sobriety test. He passed the test, but they did not let him go. Instead, the suit states, they handcuffed him then without his consent searched him and his car, where they discovered about $3,000 in cash.

Even though there “was nothing to arrest him for,” Mulligan said he asked to call his wife, or for the officers to drive him home, but they refused.

Instead, the suit states, the officers handcuffed him in the back of their car and took him to a motel, where they checked him in and ordered him not to leave or he would be “a dead motherfucker.”

Worried that he was being “set up,” Mulligan fled the motel, but encountered Nichols and Miller again.

As he tried to run, the suit claims, “they attacked him. Nichols hit Mulligan in the face with his baton, swinging it like a baseball bat, shattering Mulligan’s nose and kncking Mulligan to the pavement. Nichols and Miller the beat Mulligan in the head. Mulligan, bleeding profusely and drifting in and out of consciousness, pleaded with them to stop.”

The suit claims that the officers put Mulligan on the curb and handcuffed his hands behind his back, and Nichols leaned close in to him and said, “You’re going to die tonight because of a heroin overdose.” The suit says that Miller then “inserted his baton under Mulligan’s arms and torqued Mulligan’s shoulders back, breaking Mulligan’s scapula (shoulder blade). He repeated the maneuver, breaking the bone again, telling Mulligan he was giving him ‘some more heroin.’ Mulligan thought he was going to die there on the sidewalk.”

The suit claims that at the time of the incident, Nichols was under investigation by the LAPD’s internal affairs division for assaulting women “using a similar modus operandi to the one he employed with Mulligan; transporting them by threat and force to a private location; and ordering them to be compliant.” Mulligan’s suit claims that the LAPD “did not protect the public from Nichols,” but transferred him from the Hollywood Division to the Northeast Division.

The suit further claims that the LAPD “leaked to the media the false and inflammatory police report” written by Nichols and Miller, and that the Los Angeles Police Protective League engaged in a campaign to “smear Mulligan in the media.” The suit points to an audio recording posted by the Police Protective League in which Mulligan is allegedly heard talking of using “bath salts.” The recording was taken by a Glendale police officer two days before the May incident.

Mulligan’s suit, however, said that he had gone to the Glendale police “to ask for information about a product he recently had been given. This product was legal, but Mulligan was concerned about it. So he went to his local police station and asked an officer for advice.”

His suit also noted that Nichols and Miller “did not think Mulligan was on drugs” and that no drugs were found on him or in his car, and that he tested negative at the hospital.

Deutche Bank later fired him, the suit says, because of the “smear campaign” waged by the LAPD and the Protective League.

The LAPD’s version of events differs substantially from Mulligan’s. Although the department did not respond for immediate comment on the pending litigation, last year it defended the officers’ actions in response to media inquiries, saying that Mulligan needed to be forcibly restrained and that resulted in his hospitalization.

A department spokesman told CBS News in August that when officers responded to a report of a man breaking into cars outside a Jack in the Box restaurant in Eagle Rock, Mulligan appeared “out of it” and admitted to having used marijuana and ingesting bath salts four days earlier. They also discovered that he had $5,000 in cash in his possession. He passed a drug evaluation test, the LAPD said, but at his request they dropped him off at the Highland Park Motel several miles nearby.

Several hours later, however, they got a call of a man running through traffic a few blocks from the motel. According to police, he was contorting his hands in a clawlike manner and snarling, and force was necessary to restrain him.