Verdict in Police Brutality Case Coming Wednesday - NBC Chicago

Verdict in Police Brutality Case Coming Wednesday

James Mandarino faces two to five years in jail



    Video from the Officer James Mandarino?s dashboard camera shows him abusing the motorist despite the fact the motorist appears to be complying with the officer, prosecutors say. (Published Friday, April 16, 2010)

    A former Streamwood police officer will learn Wednesday whether he faces jail time for an altercation he had with two men during a March 2010 traffic stop.

    Closing arguments were made Tuesday in the case against 42-year-old James Mandarino

    The verdict will not come from a jury, as the case is a bench trial.  Judge Thomas Fecarotta Jr. said he would review the testimony and evidence, including the video recorded from Mandarino's squad car.  His ruling is expected at about 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows.

    Mandarino is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.  Dash cam video shows him repeatedly striking Richard Bell with his baton.  Bell was left with multiple bruises and needed seven stitches to close a gash on his ear.

    In closing arguments, prosecutors said the tape speaks for itself. 

    "He was striking him with all the fury and force and violence that he could possibly muster against Mr. Bell," said Mike Gerber, the assistant state's attorney.

    They argued that the way Mandarino was using his baton -- above his head, baseball-bat style -- constitutes excessive force, especially given the fact that Bell and his passenger, Nolan Stalbaum, were unarmed and made no verbal threats. 

    "The issue here is aggression.  Who is the aggressor in this case?  And the aggressor is James Mandarino,"  said Gerber.  "He snapped."

    But Mandarino's defense team counters that the officer reacted in the manner he did because he feared for his safety.

    They accused Stalbaum of lying about how many drinks he'd had in the house before the stop.

    "He's a bald-faced liar.  Judge, he looks you in the face and lies," defense attorney Rick Beuke told Fecarotta.

    He then grabbed a copy of the civil lawsuit against the Streamwood Police Department and accused the pair of charging Mandarino for the money.

    "This is their golden ticket.  There are a million reasons in these documents.  That's what this whole thing is about:  money," said Beuke. 

    Bell declined to comment on that accusation.

    Mandarino / Streamwood Beating