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Hollywood exec who took bath salts calls LAPD run-in a 'nightmare'

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeJames NicholsLos Angeles Police DepartmentJustice SystemDeutsche Bank AG

A onetime Deutsche Bank executive and former co-chair of Universal Pictures testified in court Wednesday that he had taken bath salts 20 times prior to his run-in with Los Angeles police — but that it did not make him paranoid.

Brian Mulligan has sued the Los Angeles Police Department for excessive force. He took the stand in the trial, which began this week, testifying that an officer's baton fractured his nose and broke his shoulder blade.

Mulligan said the last time he took the synthetic drug he called "white lightning" was two weeks prior to the May 2012 encounter with police.

On Wednesday, two Los Angeles police officers took the stand and disputed his testimony. A third officer who responded to the call and a medical expert for the city are expected to testify Thursday. 

The officers denied that they beat Mulligan with a baton. One said he wasn't even carrying one during the confrontation in Highland Park as Mulligan has alleged.

"I have never once used my baton in my 13 years of being a police officer," Officer James Nichols said. He said he left the baton in his police cruiser after jumping out to pursue a screaming and delusional Mulligan on foot.

Mulligan testified this week that Nichols broke his nose in 15 places with a baton strike, and that the officers broke his shoulder blade during a beating at Avenue 54 and Meridian Avenue.

It was "a nightmare night, a very scary night that continues today," he testified.

Answering questions from Mulligan's attorney, Louis "Skip" Miller, Nichols and his partner, Officer John Miller, testified that they don't know exactly how Mulligan suffered his injuries.

The officers told jurors that they detained Mulligan about 10:40 p.m. May 15 after reports of a man trying to get into cars near Occidental College. They determined that Mulligan was not under the influence of illegal narcotics but testified that he told them he had consumed a legal drug known as bath salts — a synthetic stimulant designed to be like cocaine or methamphetamine — four days before and had not slept since. 

With their supervisor's approval, the officers left Mulligan at a Highland Park motel to sleep it off, they said. But within hours, they testified, Mulligan was tossing a metal trash can into the street, and the officers again responded to the scene.

Nichols said that as he ran after Mulligan, the 54-year-old executive turned to face him, curling his fingers like claws, gnashing his teeth and growling. Then, Nichols testified, Mulligan got into a tackle stance and charged him.

Nichols said he used Mulligan's own momentum to shove him to the ground by the curb. He said that as he and his partner tried to pin and handcuff Mulligan, he tried to bite them and buck them off.

"He was ramming his face into the street," Nichols, a 13-year veteran of the LAPD, told jurors, adding that Mulligan "hit his face hard."

John Miller, a six-year veteran of the LAPD, testified that neither he nor his partner struck Mulligan in the head with a baton; he testified that he delivered only two baton blows to Mulligan's torso. He told jurors that striking someone in the head with a baton would be considered a potential use of deadly force, and he would have reported his partner had that occurred.

Mulligan and the officers didn't agree on hardly anything about that night except that they first met at an entrance of Occidental College.

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