May 31, 2011: James Mandarino was found guilty in March of using excessive force.
A former Streamwood police officer found guilty of using excessive force when he repeatedly struck a motorist has avoided jail time.
Judge Thomas Fecoratta sentenced James Mandarino on Tuesday to 30 months probation plus 150 hours community service.
"I just appreciate all the support, and I appreciate the judge offering probation. I'm going to take it very seriously," Mandarino said outside the courtroom.
Mandarino, 42, was convicted in March on charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct after a dashboard camera in his police car recorded Mandarino beating Ronald Bell with a metal baton more than a dozen times during a 2010 traffic stop.
Mandarino's defense lawyers, who previously requested a new trial, had asked for probation, but the state wanted him to serve three years in prison.
"Anything less than prison time would diminish the seriousness of the attack," Assistant State's Attorney Virginia Biggane argued. "A prison sentence is necessary to deter others from doing the same thing."
Fecoratta rejected the state's request because of the words of support found in 82 letters submitted by Mandarino's friends and the community. The memos spoke to the former officer's character and credibility.
"These were all letters from the heart, and they were from all facets of the community," said attorney Rick Beuke.
Before the sentencing, Mandarino asked the judge for probation so he can continue providing financial and emotional support for his family.
"I regret that night ever occurred," Mandarino said. "I regret any pain and suffering Mr. Bell and Mr. Stalbaum may have incurred."
He said the incident does not define him as a man, a father and a husband.
Bell was not reachable for comment.