Bath salts are new twist in bank executive's LAPD abuse claim
On the morning of May 13, a man stopped an officer in the lobby of Glendale police headquarters and asked for help.
“I know this is gonna sound crazy,” the man said, “but I feel like there are people following me. I feel like there was a chopper. Do you hear a chopper?”
“We don't have a helicopter up in Glendale,” the officer replied.
Over the next 11 minutes, in a conversation the officer recorded, the man explained why he felt “a little paranoid.” He’d recently been snorting “white lightning,” he said, a type of synthetic drug known as bath salts that can trigger hallucinations and combativeness.
“I’ve probably used it 20 times,” the man said.
The man, police said, turned out to be a managing director and vice chairman at Deutsche Bank, Brian C. Mulligan. He previously served as co-chairman of Universal Pictures and chairman of News Corp.'s Fox Television.
Within days of his exchange with the Glendale officer, Mulligan was laid up in the hospital after a violent – and highly publicized – encounter with two Los Angeles Police Department officers.
Mulligan has filed a $50-million claim with the city, a precursor to a lawsuit. He alleged that the LAPD officers dragged him to a motel in Highland Park, threatened to kill him if he left and then, when they discovered he'd escaped, beat him so badly that he suffered 15 fractures to his nose and required dozens of stitches.
Mulligan also said the officers manufactured a report that painted him as a snarling, thrashing man who told them that he'd recently ingested “bath salts” and feared he was being chased.
On Monday, officials with the Los Angeles police officers union said the recording undercut Mulligan’s version of what happened May 16,
But Mulligan’s attorney, Skip Miller, said the similarity between those details and what Mulligan apparently told the Glendale officer is irrelevant to his brutality claim.
“This is about a severe unwanted and illegal beating of Mr. Mulligan,” said Miller, who dismissed the statements of the Los Angeles Police Protective League as mudslinging. “We are going to try this case in court in front of a jury and not in the media,” he added.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment.
On the day of the incident in Glendale, Mulligan had been shopping at the Glendale Galleria, he told the unidentified officer, who taped the conversation per department policy. The recording was turned over to the LAPD as part of its use-of-force investigation, said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
During the sometimes-rambling exchange, Mulligan mentioned his home in pricey La Cañada Flintridge, his wife of 25 years and his two children, one of whom he described as a budding football star. Mulligan said he travels almost weekly to New York and, to help him sleep, he got a prescription for medical marijuana.
“Probably my lawyer will kill me when I say this, but I went to a head shop and I bought some of that white lightning stuff,” Mulligan said.
The officer asked Mulligan: Do you mean bath salts?
“I don’t know what it is, but it was bad,” Mulligan said.
Mulligan said he hadn’t used the drugs for about two weeks, but he indicated that he was still feeling shaky.
“How long does this stuff stay in your … system, man, how’s it legal!” he said.
The officer described bath salts as legal, but a “close relative of methamphetamine.” Though Mulligan swore he had no plans to use the drugs again, the officer encouraged him to see a doctor or drug counselor.
“I mean, my wife knows,” Mulligan said.
“OK,” the officer replied, “you need to get to on top of this before it gets on top of you.”
Days later, Mulligan ended up on the border of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. His former attorney told The Times in August that Mulligan said he fled some law enforcement officers — he was uncertain from what agency — who'd urged him to go into into a seedy apartment building.
Near an entrance to Occidental College, Mulligan ran into LAPD Officers James Nichols and John Miller, who had received reports that night of a white male trying to break into cars, according to their report. Mulligan was drenched in sweat and walked unsteadily, the report said, yet he passed several sobriety tests.
When the officers searched Mulligan's car, they found several thousand dollars in cash and an Irish passport, Mulligan's claim said. Then police took him to the nearby Highland Park Motel. The officers said Mulligan asked to be dropped off there. Mulligan, according to his claim and former attorneys, said he was taken there against his will, forced to check into Room 208 and told “he could not leave, under threat of death.”
Later, the officers and Mulligan crossed paths again on a residential street. “At that point,” Mulligan's claim said, “he was in such great fear that he believed the LAPD officers were not truly LAPD officers but may be impostors bent on robbing or killing.”
Mulligan said the officers attacked him. In their report, police described Mulligan's behavior far differently — they said he arched his back, waved his arms, stiffened his fingers like claws and charged them.
The city has rejected Mulligan’s $50-million claim, and he has not filed any further actions.
— Richard Winton and Ashley Powers
Photo: Brian Mulligan. Credit: Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images.