Verdict Coming In Suburban Officer’s Brutality Trial
UPDATED 03/22/11 12:34 p.m.
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) — The misconduct trial of a former suburban police officer has wrapped up and is now in the hands of the judge.
Closing arguments in the bench trial former Streamwood police Officer James Mandarino ended around noon Tuesday. Rolling Meadows court Judge Thomas P. Fecarotta will announce his ruling on the case on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Mandarino took the witness stand in his own defense Monday. He is charged with wrongly using force during a traffic stop nearly a year ago.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports
The 42-year-old fired officer is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct following a traffic stop that was captured on his dashboard camera.
In the video, Mandarino is seen striking a man some 15 times with a metal baton.
On Monday, testified that he used his stun gun on passenger Nolan Stalbaum and beat motorist Ronald Bell with a baton, when they and a third man exited Bell’s sport-utility vehicle against the officer’s orders.
Mandarino says he used force because he feared for his life. He said he was in the middle of a high-risk traffic stop, and the suspects ignored his dozens of orders to stay in their car after pulling into a driveway.
Mandarino said the passenger, who smelled of alcohol, kept shouting expletives at him, saying, “I don’t have to listen to you” and began to walk into the house.
Mandarino, alone and waiting for backup, testified, “I was in fear at any moment he could come out and may have a weapon with him.”
“The red flags are going off … I felt anxiety. At any moment I could be killed or seriously injured,” the five-year SWAT team veteran said.
The driver and baton victim, Ronald Bell, was treated for injuries in the arrest. It resulted in Mandarino’s dismissal from the force.
Key to the defense is the argument Bell refused repeated orders to lay prone, instead remaining in a kneeling position and resisting arrest.
“I believed it was just a matter of time before he was going to fight me,” Mandarino said.
Mandarino faces two to five years in prison if found guilty.