Bath salts, the designer drugs that can generate psychotic episodes, took center stage Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court as former Universal Pictures chairman Brian Mulligan testified contritely about using the potent substances 20 times.
“It’s just a mistake,” Mulligan said. “I’m better than that.”
Mulligan’s testimony came in the second day of his lawsuit against the LAPD and suspended officers James Nichols and John Miller over alleged excessive force in the harsh beating he received on May 16, 2012. The former investment banker admitted that he had taken bath salts 20 times before stopping in early May 2012 — two weeks before the beating.
Mulligan said he purchased the drugs half a dozen times, starting in late 2011, and initially found that it helped him overcome feeling fatigued during his work on weekends as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank. “It makes you calm, relaxed and aware,” he testified.
However, Mulligan testified that the bath salts– which were legal at that point — began to trigger unpleasant reactions as he continued using. “Over time, they made me jittery and anxious,” he said.
Mulligan explained that on May 13 — two days before the beating — he was faced with a red-eye flight to New York and he asked Glendale police officer and drug recognition expert Peter Robinson about the impact of using bath salts and was told to “stay away.”
Attorneys for the officers and LAPD have attempted to portray Mulligan as an unhinged drug abuser who was under the influence to the point of frothing at the mouth and threatening the officers with physical harm. Mulligan admitted he told Nichols that he had used bath salts two weeks earlier — but denied several times that he told Miller that he had used the drug just four days earlier.
Defense attorney Denise Zimmerman told the eight-member jury in her opening statement Tuesday that officers found two bottles of “white lightning” in Mulligan’s car after they confronted him outside a medical marijuana dispensary on May 15, 2012 — triggering the chain of events leading to the beating.
Mulligan also testified that he had sought out advice from the Glendale police department because of his familiarity with the city. He reiterated Wednesday that he feared for his life in dealing with Nichols and Miller, testifying again that Nichols told him several times that he had been injected with heroin and would die from an overdose.
“It was mental torture to think that you’re not going to see your family again,” Mulligan said. “That was the worst thing.”
Mulligan’s attorneys called Dr. Harry Smith following Mulligan’s testimony to bolster claims that Nichols and Miller used excessive force in breaking his nose in 15 places and his shoulder blade.
U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner has set the schedule of the case so that the issue of excessive force will go to the jury as early as Thursday. If the panel rules in favor of Mulligan, the trial will proceed to its second phase, in which the jury will be charged with determining damages and whether the LAPD was negligent in supervising Nichols.
Mulligan’s resume includes a stint as Fox TV chairman and as managing director and vice chairman of media for Deutsche Bank. He was terminated from his job at Deutsche shortly after the police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, released the tape of his conversation with Robinson to the media.