About 1 a.m., the same uniformed officers responded to a traffic call not far from the motel. Miller said he spotted Mulligan trying to open the passenger-side door of an occupied silver van, the report said. The van sped off. The officers yelled at him to get off the sidewalk. They said Mulligan responded with expletives. (Flanagan disputed their account, saying it was unlikely the officers saw much from where they said they were parked, about 100 yards away.)
The officers soon gave chase, the report said. "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."
The officers caught up with Mulligan. "He took up a fighting stance — a karate-style stance," said Los Angeles police Lt. Andrew Neiman, a department spokesman, in an interview, "and then charged at them." Mulligan tried to tackle Nichols, the police report said, and Nichols took Mulligan to the ground. Neiman said the officers used reasonable force.
Mulligan's attorney denied that his client charged police and accused the officers of using excessive force.