Alleged witness describes cop beating victim

April 16, 2010 5:27:47 PM PDT
The family of a man whose beating by a suburban police officer was captured on camera says they don't feel safe in Streamwood and are considering moving.

The Streamwood officer is suspended and facing criminal charges. Now for the first time, the public is hearing from a witness.

The alleged assault was captured on video, but there is no audio on the recording to provide insight into the words exchanged that day. ABC7 has learned the officer broke department guidelines by having his microphone switched off.

Regardless of what was said, driver Ron Bell's family says there's no excuse for the officer's actions.

The lights and commotion caused Stacey Bell to come out of his house. He found a Streamwood police officer clubbing his brother in the driveway.

"My hands came out in front of me as soon as I came out of the house. I told him 'I'm not a threat but you don't have the right to beat him. He's on the ground, he's not threatening you,'" said Bell.

Stacey was asleep inside his home when the officer followed Ron Bell and a friend's car as they pulled into the driveway.

Within four seconds of the officer exiting his squad - gun in hand - Ron Bell sat back down in his car. One minute and 15 seconds into the incident Bell's passenger gets out. Seconds later the officer tasered him.

For the next few minutes Ron Bell is seen standing with his hands up. He then kneels. Three minutes and 34 seconds into the traffic stop, the officer begins beating Bell with his baton. Prosecutors say there were 15 strikes in all. The officer backed off as Bell's brother approached.

"I asked him again, 'what do you want? I don't think we understand what you want.' He said 'I want him down.' I said, 'he is down.' I said, 'want do you want?' He said, 'I want him all the way down.' I said 'you didn't specify that.' I told him, 'I will pull him out and stretch him out.' So I grabbed my brothers' wrists and dropped him down. And I looked at the officer and I said,'Was it that hard to do? You had to beat him because he couldn't get all the way down? He didn't understand what you wanted,'" said Bell.

"What the police officer did was inexcusable. He took a baton and basically, you could say, attempted to kill Ron Bell," said Jon Loevy, Ron Bell's Attorney.

The officer is James Mandarino, a 15-year veteran of the Streamwood force who's received awards for his work. He's now facing official misconduct and aggravated battery charges.

"I lost a lot of respect for the police that night. Some of it has been restored restored with the fact the video has come out but I still have a lot of mistrust. In fact, we're considering moving because we don't feel safe," said Bell.

"He's very scared. He's very nervous. He doesn't understand how this could happen to him without doing anything. Our whole household has been scared," said Sheila Bell, Ron Bell's sister-in-law.

Neither Ron Bell nor his passenger Nolan Stalbaum can recall ever meeting Officer Mandarino before that night in March.

Neither man has a criminal record. Both are now planning a lawsuit.

Officer Mandarino is suspended with pay awaiting a disciplinary hearing where he could be fired.


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