Streamwood cop on trial in videotaped beating

March 8, 2011 4:34:00 PM PST
The trial is under way for a former suburban police officer accused of beating a man during a traffic stop last year in Streamwood. The incident was recorded by the camera inside the officer's squad car.

The man who says he was beaten took the witness stand Tuesday.

Former Streamwood Officer James Mandarino is accused of beating Ron Bell in the driveway of Bell's home last April.

Mandarino is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. Prosecutors say the videotape tells the story, but the defense says the video is only video, not audio.

And, the defense says, what can't be heard is the real story.

Mandarino, 41, was described by his attorney as a poster child for the perfect officer. For several years Mandarino was categorized within the police department as outstanding, even winning Officer of the Year.

But Mandorino's stellar 15-year career took a turn last March when he was captured by his own squad card video camera beating Bell with a baton.

While the defense says the case against their client isn't all about the 11 seconds portrayed in the media, prosecutors say a 28-year-old bell was defenseless when he received 15 "ruthless blows."

Bell was the state's first witness. He testified that on the early morning of March 28 he pulled into his own driveway followed by a police car. He says the officer got out of the squad car with his gun. As Bell and his passenger got out of their vehicle, Bell testified that Mandorino Tasered his friend before striking Bell 15 times in the back, arm and head.

Bell told the judge, "He kept going to town on me."

Bell says during the incident he kept asking Mandorino what he did wrong. Bell said he responded by saying "Shut the ---- up."

After the incident, Bell was charged with DUI.

Tuesday in court, Bell said he was not intoxicated that morning. After court he spoke to the media and said he wants justice to be served.

"Permanently, he has ruined my life," said Bell. "I'm very emotional and depressed."

The trial will continue Wednesday.

Mandorino was fired from the Streamwood Police Department, although many of his fellow officers -- and their union -- supported him during the time leading up to trial by giving him a fundraiser to raise money for his defense.