The Bath Salts Banker

The protestation is a familiar one to police officers: “My son (or, brother, husband, friend, neighbor, or what have you) would never do that!” And “that” refers to whatever affront to the commonweal the son (or brother, etc.) had committed to bring himself to the attention of the police. The cop’s response most often goes something like this: “He apparently would, and he apparently did, which is why he’s on his way to jail right now.” To the cop, there are few human foibles that come as a great surprise.

But once in a great while there comes along a man whose downfall is so radically divergent from his ostensible station in life that even the most jaded police officer cannot help but look on and ask, “Who would have thought it?”

Witness the case of Brian Mulligan, 53, an executive with Deutsche Bank in Los Angeles. To the casual observer it would have appeared Mr. Mulligan had it all: a high-paying job, a loving family, a nice home in a pricey suburb, and all the many trappings attendant to prosperity and success. So when back in May he found himself hospitalized after a violent confrontation with officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, Mr. Mulligan responded as one would expect: with indignant attorneys threatening legal action. Very, very costly legal action, of course.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Mulligan’s version of his encounter with the LAPD, as related by his attorneys, can be summed up thus: On the night of May 15, Mulligan went to the Highland Park area of Los Angeles to buy medical marijuana, which, he claims, helps him sleep.  While there, he was detained by police officers and ordered under threat of death to check into a motel.  When he tried to escape, the officers chased him and savagely beat him without the slightest justification, resulting in serious injuries to his face and to his reputation.

The prudent reader is at this point curious.  Out of all the people out and about in Highland Park that evening, why would these police officers choose this respected businessman and mistreat him so?  Needless to say, the officers’ version of events is in conflict in key details with that of Mr. Mulligan.  The officers say they responded to a radio call of a man wearing a pink shirt and tan pants trying to break into a car, a call that was soon followed by a second, similar one in the same area.  While searching the neighborhood, the officers found Mr. Mulligan, dressed as described in the radio calls, near the entrance to Occidental College.  He was drenched in sweat and appeared unsteady, but he passed a sobriety test.

Mulligan told the officers he had smoked marijuana and taken “white lightning,” a term for a relatively new street drug more commonly referred to as bath salts.  He had not slept in four days, he said, and he believed people were chasing him.  He also told the officers he was depressed and going through a divorce.

He was exhausted, Mulligan said, and he asked the officers to drop him at a local motel where he could get some rest. Lacking any reason to arrest or further detain him, the officers took him to the motel and assisted him in checking in.

Later that night, the same officers saw Mulligan out on the street trying to open the passenger’s side door of an occupied van.  The van sped off, and when the officers went to investigate, Mulligan tried to run away.  The officers caught up to him, at which time Mulligan took up what the police report described as a “fighting stance” before charging at and attempting to tackle one of the officers. There then followed what neither side disputes, to wit, a fracas that saw Mr. Mulligan come out very much on the losing end, as a photo on the TMZ website will graphically attest.

Come, come, say Mr. Mulligan’s attorneys. Mr. Mulligan made no admissions about using bath salts, and the mere suggestion that he did so is nothing but a further attack on his reputation, no doubt requiring an extra zero or two to be added to the eventual damage award.