Beating video played in Streamwood police trial

March 9, 2011 3:25:30 PM PST
A video from a police squad car was played in court Wednesday. Prosecutors say it shows a former suburban officer beating a man.

James Mandarino is charged with the beating, which happened during a traffic stop in Streamwood last year. The passenger in the vehicle testified Wednesday.

While the witnesses are important to the state's case, prosecutors are heavily reliant on their main piece of evidence: the videotape. But the defense says that tape doesn't tell the whole story because it doesn't have any audio.

The full video shown in court was 16 minutes long, but prosecutors say only 11 seconds of it is enough to find Mandarino guilty of aggravated battery. The former Streamwood police officer sat expressionless as the tape was shown to the judge in Mandarino's bench trial.

The video recorded by his own squad car camera captures Mandarino apparently striking Ron Bell 15 times in the head, back and arms. The 29-year-old testified Tuesday he was beaten while on his knees with his hands in the air.

In the pre-dawn hours of March 28, Bell and his friend, Nolan Stalbaum, had just returned to Bell's home after a long evening out, when a police officer pulled up behind them in Bell's driveway.

Stalbaum testified, as he and Bell got out of the vehicle, Mandarino had his gun drawn. Admitting he did not comply with Mandarino's commands immediately, Stalbaum says he was hit with a stun gun.

At the same time, Bell's brother Stacey had heard the commotion from inside the house and came outside in time to witness Mandarino striking his brother with a baton. Stacey Bell testified that he said to Officer Mandarino, "Why are you striking him? He didn't do anything. He's following your commands."

Ron Bell was eventually taken to the hospital. An emergency room doctor testified that Bell received several stitches to his ear and could possibly have suffered a mild concussion, although a CAT scan was never administered.

Under cross-examination, the doctor admitted that Bell smelled like alcohol and was somewhat combative in the hospital. The ER doctor says Bell did eventually cooperate in the hospital.

Tuesday, Bell testified that he did have three drinks over the course of the evening, but he was not intoxicated by the time Officer Mandarino pulled up in his driveway.

Thursday, the state should wrap up their case, and then there will be defense witnesses. Right now, the defense is unclear on whether it will call Officer Mandarino.