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When LAPD officers were accused, union dug up dirt to fight back

A case offers a look into how the L.A. Police Protective League mobilized to defend officers who union officials feel have been wrongly accused.

November 23, 2013|By Joel Rubin and Richard Winton
  • Brian C. Mulligan has accused Los Angeles Police Protective League officials of conspiring to “publicly vilify” him and pressure him to drop his demands for millions of dollars in damages.
Brian C. Mulligan has accused Los Angeles Police Protective League officials… (Chelsea Lauren, Getty Images…)

As far as news releases go, the one the Los Angeles police union put out was highly unusual.

It dealt with Brian C. Mulligan, a Hollywood executive turned banker, who had been arrested by LAPD officers. In the news release, the union portrayed Mulligan as a drug-abusing liar and accused him of trying to "shake down" the Police Department.

The evidence? A secret recording that a police officer in nearby Glendale had made of Mulligan a few days before his arrest. Sounding agitated and paranoid, Mulligan admitted on the recording to using a potent type of bath salts, a synthetic drug that can cause paranoia. The union embedded in the release a link to the recording, which it had uploaded to its website.

It was a counterattack on Mulligan. The Deutsche Bank executive had gone public with a strange, troubling account of his arrest, in which he was badly injured. Officers, he said through an attorney, had kidnapped him, forced him to go to a motel and then beat him in a brutal, unprovoked attack when he tried to flee. He also denied the officers' claim that he had admitted using bath salts and marijuana, and he accused the officers of lying in their arrest report to cover up the alleged abuse.

How the audio recording made its way into the hands of the Los Angeles Police Protective League and its decision to publish it are at the heart of a lawsuit filed recently by Mulligan. In it, and in a related lawsuit, Mulligan has accused union officials of conspiring with a lawyer in the L.A. city attorney's office and a media consultant to "publicly vilify" Mulligan and pressure him to drop his demands for millions of dollars in damages.

The union has stoutly defended its right to publish the audio recording, saying in a court filing that it was acting "to defend the reputation of the two officers" who arrested Mulligan and was free to release the recording because it was not confidential.

An attorney for Eric Rose, the union media consultant named in the recent lawsuit, echoed that idea, saying Rose and the union had the right to disseminate Mulligan's "very public truthful admission which he finds embarrassing."

The case offers a look into how the union mobilized to defend officers who its officials feel have been wrongly accused.


The odd events that ended with Mulligan's arrest began late one night in May last year. Officers from the LAPD's Northeast Division were dispatched to a neighborhood near Occidental College after people reported a man trying to get into locked cars, according to police and court records. They came upon Mulligan, who matched the man's description, walking in the street and stopped him.

In Mulligan's car parked nearby, an officer found what appeared to be bath salts, which are not illegal to possess, according to a recounting of events by the Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD. Although they noticed he was "sweating profusely and appeared unsteady," the officers determined Mulligan was not drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.

Mulligan asked the officers to bring him to a motel, according to accounts given by the officers and a police supervisor who was at the scene. They agreed, dropping him off at one nearby. The officers told investigators they advised Mulligan to stay in the room and left his car key with the motel manager.

About an hour later, the same officers encountered Mulligan again when they saw him "screaming and dragging a metal trash can in the street," police reports show. Mulligan tried to open the doors of several cars and then ran away from the officers, according to the LAPD's official account of the incident. The officers gave chase and said they found Mulligan snarling and thrashing and swiping at them as if he believed his hands were claws. They claimed Mulligan charged at them. The officers said they pushed him to the ground and kicked and struck him in the torso with a baton, according to police records.

When it was over, Mulligan's nose was broken in several places and his shoulder blade fractured. After an internal investigation, the Police Commission found the officers' use of force was justified.

Mulligan's account of the night differs dramatically. He claimed the officers took him to the motel against his will and then attacked him when he fled, beating him in the face and on the head and deliberately breaking his shoulder blade.

After reviewing the case, prosecutors for the district attorney and city attorney chose not to pursue any criminal charges against Mulligan.

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