Brian Mulligan, 54, a former Deutsche Bank official, testified in the first day of his trial Tuesday that the 2012 confrontation with police was "a very long night, a nightmare night, a very scary night that continues today."
"I used to be smart," Mulligan said at one point as he hesitated in his testimony, recounting the time before the incident when he logged a million air miles a year, flying around the globe making financial deals.
Defense attorney Denise Zimmerman, who briefly began questioning Mulligan and was set to resume Wednesday, told jurors during opening statements Tuesday that a partially used can of a "bath salts" drug mixture known as White Lightning was found in Mulligan's car. The mixture can have an effect similar to cocaine or methamphetamine.
She said a witness will testify that the police were trying to calm Mulligan but "he was fighting, growling and snarling," she said.
Mulligan, who has no prior criminal record, alleges he was beaten in May 2012 by two officers after they stopped him and gave him a field sobriety test that he passed.
Officers found about $3,000 in cash in Mulligan's car, and they decided to drive him to a nearby motel, where he was told to stay until morning, according to the lawsuit.
Mulligan said that when he tried to leave the room, two police officers attacked him without provocation, shattering parts of his face and breaking his shoulder.
"The pain was so excruciating, and I thought I was being jabbed with a needle," Mulligan said. "I thought, 'I can't believe I'm going to die at the hand of these two guys.'"
He acknowledged fleeing from the police and said, "I was running for my life."
Mulligan held up for jurors the blood-stained shirt he was wearing that night.
He said that the confrontation ensued after he went out that night in search of a drug that would lull him to sleep on a redeye flight he had planned to New York. He went to a medical marijuana dispensary with a prescription for pills, Mulligan said, but they were not in stock. When he left, he said he was walking back to his car when a police vehicle drove up and he was handcuffed.
Asked for his state of mind, he said, "complete fear. There's no way to make sense of any of this."
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. Mulligan also once served as co-chairman of Universal Studios and chief financial officer of Seagram Co.
One officer named in Mulligan's suit is on leave pending a disciplinary hearing over unrelated allegations that he coerced women to have sex. A lawsuit with such allegations by a former drug informant was recently settled for $575,000.