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Trial begins in ex-banking exec's excessive force case against LAPD

Crime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemJames NicholsCourts and the JudiciaryLos Angeles Police DepartmentDeutsche Bank AG

A former Hollywood and banking executive's excessive force trial against the LAPD began Tuesday with him testifying that an officer's baton fractured his nose, broke his shoulder blade and shattered his life.

Brian Mulligan, the former vice chairman of Deutsche Bank and former co-chairman of Universal Pictures, held up his blood-soaked shirt in court and called the 2012 encounter with two police officers "a nightmare night, a very scary night that continues today."

Mulligan recalled his version of events that unfolded shortly before 1 a.m. May 16, 2012, with Los Angeles Police Officers James Nichols and John Miller.

"Boom, my whole nose was splattered. It was the worst pain I have ever felt," he testified, describing an alleged blow from Nichols' baton. He said the incident left him with 15 broken bones in his face and 54 stitches and required several surgeries.

Mulligan acknowledged "running for his life" from the officers because he claimed that earlier that evening near Occidental College, officers had detained him, taken him to a motel and warned him that if he left, he would be dead.

After his attorney, Louis "Skip" Miller, played a 911 tape of Mulligan screaming in pain and showed bloody photos of him, Mulligan testified that the initial baton blows caused him to black out, but when he came around, officers broke his shoulder blade.

The attorney told the jury in opening statements the case "is a kind of 'he said, she said.'"

"He's going to say, 'They beat me up,'" Louis Miller said. "They're going to say he attacked them. It's a very simple case."

Denise Zimmerman, an attorney for one of the officers, told jurors Mulligan was snarling and thrashing and stiffened his finger like claws. Mulligan admitted in an interview with Glendale police two days before the arrest to having used drugs known as bath salts 20 times, she said.

But Mulligan testified that although he had used bath salts in the past, he had not used them in the two weeks before his arrest.

The incident began when the two officers responded to reports of a man trying to get into locked cars near Occidental College and found Mulligan.

He testified Tuesday that on the day of the confrontation he had been to an Eagle Rock marijuana dispensary for pills to help him sleep but had been questioned by an unknown officer near the store. The officer sent him to an apartment complex, Mulligan said, and fearing for his safety, he ran off to Occidental College, the only place he knew in the area.

Mulligan said he was confronted by the two officers, who determined he was not under the influence of controlled substances and searched his Toyota Prius.

He testified that he asked them to call him a cab or his wife in La Cañada Flintridge but that instead they took him to a Highland Park motel and put him a room with no phone. He eventually fled, but officers found him at Avenue 54 and Meridian Street, where the encounter turned violent, Mulligan said.

But Zimmerman told jurors in her opening statement that Mulligan was sweaty and unkempt and had been trying to break into cars near the college. She said officers found crumpled $50 and $100 bills and "white lightning," a type of bath salt, in his car. She said Mulligan asked the officers to take him to a motel, claiming he was divorcing his wife.

She told jurors that later that night, the same officers saw Mulligan screaming and dragging a metal trash can in the street. He made a lewd gesture and tried to open the door of a minivan driven by a woman, Zimmerman said.

Mulligan charged the officers, who then pushed him to the ground and struck him on the torso with a baton, Zimmerman said. His injuries were the result of a fall, and there never was a baton strike to the head, she said.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles ruled Tuesday that evidence against Nichols in a separate misconduct investigation can be heard by jurors only if they first find that officers used excessive force.

The Los Angeles City Council has approved a $575,000 payout to a woman, one of four who accused Nichols and another officer of coercing them into having sex with them, according to court documents. Nichols has denied any wrongdoing.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Crime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemJames NicholsCourts and the JudiciaryLos Angeles Police DepartmentDeutsche Bank AG
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