LOS ANGELES — Two Los Angeles police officers denied Wednesday that they beat a former bank executive with a baton during a bizarre encounter that ended with broken bones and a $20 million lawsuit.
Officers James Nichols and John Miller gave almost word-for-word identical accounts of the May 2012 confrontation, absolving themselves of any wrongdoing. They described the banker Brian Mulligan as acting strangely and at one point becoming so uncontrollable that they feared he would do damage to himself or others.
“This guy had gone crazy,” Miller said. “He’d lost his marbles. I was a bit scared. I’d never seen anybody frothing at the mouth and growling as an adult human being.”
They took the stand after Mulligan, whose excessive-force suit claims he suffered a broken nose and shoulder and other injuries along with mental torture from an unprovoked beating.
The one-time Deutsche Bank official said that he was driven to snort the drug mix known as “bath salts” to deal with sleeping problems and had used it at least 20 times – but not on the night of the encounter – and he denied being paranoid during the confrontation.
Nichols, however, said Mulligan told him he had taken a type of bath salts called “White Lightning” four days earlier and hadn’t slept since. He painted a portrait of a delusional man who was spotted wandering the street with wads of crumpled $100 bills falling out of his pockets.
“He was covered in sweat. He was very jittery,” Nichols said. “He said he was going through a divorce. He was very upset. His children didn’t like him.”
At Mulligan’s demand, officers took him to a hotel, but he later caused a disturbance by claiming someone was hiding in his nightstand, Nichols said.
Nichols said police later confronted Mulligan again after he was seen apparently pulling on car handles and growled when ordered to get on the ground.
Harry Lincoln Smith, an expert in the biomechanics of accidents who analyzed evidence for Mulligan’s attorney, testified that the facial injuries were caused by baton strikes.
The damage was so extreme that Mulligan’s olfactory nerve was destroyed and he cannot smell, Smith said.
Smith also said he measured bruises on Mulligan’s back and compared them to the tip of a police baton.
“It’s a pretty good match,” the witness said.
But Nichols told jurors that he had never used his baton in 13 years on the force.
Miller said he did use his baton to subdue Mulligan by slamming him on the back of his shoulder, but he said he never hit him in the face.
Both officers suggested Mulligan may have injured himself by banging his face on the ground.
Mulligan was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, but prosecutors declined to file charges.
A civilian oversight board found the officers’ use of force to be appropriate, and a claim against the city over his lost bank job was dismissed.