UPDATED 04/25/11 11:08 a.m.
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Sentencing was suddenly postponed Monday morning for a former Streamwood police officer, who was convicted of beating an unarmed, kneeling man while his dashboard video camera was rolling.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Mandarino was scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning, but in court, sentencing was postponed. His defense team asked Rolling Meadows Judge Thomas Fercarotta for an extension because, they said, they were not prepared to present a motion in front of the judge.
Defense attorneys said they had 80 letters from friends and family in support of Mandarino, but they weren’t ready to present to the judge.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys agreed to the request, so the sentencing was postponed until May 31.
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Before he found Mandarino guilty, Rolling Meadows Judge Thomas Fecarotta said, “If a picture speaks a thousand words, this video speaks a million.”
The video shows the 15-year veteran officer repeatedly hitting Ronald Bell with his baton. Bell is on his knees in his driveway, holding his arms up.
Mandarino said he was in fear for his life. He said he was in the middle of a high-risk traffic stop, and that Bell and his passenger ignored his dozens of orders to stay in their car after pulling into a driveway.
Mandarino said the passenger, Nolan Stalbaum, smelled of alcohol and kept shouting expletives at him, saying, “I don’t have to listen to you” and began to walk into the house.
Defense attorneys argued Bell refused repeated orders to lie on the ground, instead remaining in a kneeling position and resisting arrest.
But the judge did not agree that Mandarino’s life was in danger, and he wondered whether the officer knew the camera was rolling.
Prosecutors have not indicated whether they offered Mandarino a plea deal to avoid prison.
But he opted for a bench trial, and was found guilty of aggravated battery and official misconduct.
The crimes ended Mandarino’s police career and could get him up to five years in prison.
Mandarino declined to comment as he left the Rolling Meadows courthouse Monday morning.