A judge will allow a recording of a former Hollywood and banking executive acknowledging he used bath salts to be used only for impeachment purposes in his civil rights trial against Los Angeles police for beating him during an arrest.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner made the decision Tuesday as the civil rights and excessive force case against the LAPD began Tuesday for Brian Mulligan, a former Universal and Deutsche Bank executive.
The decision means Mulligan's statements to Glendale police two days before the LAPD arrest could be used only if he contradicts them in court.
The judge also decided the eight-person jury will not hear allegations that one of the officers Mulligan says beat him, James Nichols, was under investigation for sex acts with women informants unless they first find excessive force was used.
At the time of the alleged beating incident, Nichols was under investigation for misconduct in the LAPD's Hollywood Division.
Events unfolded in the May 2012 beating when officers responded to reports of a man trying to get into locked cars. They came upon Mulligan, who was on his way to an Eagle Rock marijuana dispensary, in the street and stopped him.
They found in his car what appeared to be bath salts, a synthetic substance not illegal to possess but that can cause powerful reactions similar to cocaine when ingested, according to a recounting of events by the Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD.
Although officers noticed he was “sweating profusely and appeared unsteady,” they determined Mulligan was not drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.
Mulligan asked the officers to take him to a motel, according to accounts given by the officers and a police supervisor who was at the scene. They agreed, dropping him off at one nearby.
About an hour later, the same officers saw Mulligan “screaming and dragging a metal trash can in the street,” police reports show. Mulligan ran away from the officers, according to the LAPD's official account of the incident.
The officers chased Mulligan and found him snarling, thrashing and swiping at them as if he believed his hands were claws. They claimed Mulligan charged at them. The officers said they pushed him to the ground and kicked and struck him in the torso with a baton, according to police records.
Mulligan's nose was broken in several places and his shoulder blade fractured. After an internal investigation, the Police Commission found the officers' use of force was justified.
Mulligan had a very different account of the encounter. Through an attorney, he claimed the officers took him to the motel against his will and attacked him when he fled, beating him in the face and on the head and deliberately breaking his shoulder blade.
He accused the officers of fabricating their arrest report.
In announcing plans to seek millions in damages against the LAPD, Mulligan denied having ever used bath salts and accused the officers of lying about the arrest.
In response, the Los Angeles police union released a recording an officer in nearby Glendale made when Mulligan had struck up a conversation with him a few days before his arrest.
Sounding agitated and paranoid, Mulligan admitted to the officer to using a potent type of bath salts.
Klausner decided Tuesday that if jurors determine the city was at fault in the excessive-use portion of the trial -- setting off a second phase on negligent supervision -- the evidence against Nichols can be heard.
A woman who accused Nichols and another Los Angeles police officer of threatening her with jail unless she had sex with them will be paid $575,000 to settle her lawsuit against the city.
The Los Angeles City Council last week unanimously approved the payout to the woman, one of four to accuse Nichols and another officer of coercing them into having sex with them, according to court documents.
Nichols, who is on paid leave, denies any wrongdoing. His attorney, Robert Rico, said the woman and the other accusers "had no credibility."
[Updated at 8:15 p.m. PST, Jan. 21: An earlier version of this post omitted part of the sequence of events that led to the L.A. police union releasing a recording of Mulligan acknowledging to Glendale police that he used bath salts.]