UPDATED 05/31/11 5:49 p.m.
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – Former Streamwood police Officer James Mandarino will be on probation for the next 30 months, for beating an unarmed, kneeling man while his dashboard video camera was rolling.
Rolling Meadows Judge Thomas P. Fecarotta sentenced Mandarino to 30 months’ probation Tuesday morning. CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole has the story.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, the video camera captured evidence that Mandarino, 42, beat motorist Ronald Bell with a baton last year.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Mary Frances Bragiel reports
Mandarino faced up to five years in prison.
He had been scheduled to be sentenced last month, but the sentencing was postponed after his defense team asked to present 80 letters from friends and family in support of Mandarino.
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.
Mandarino opted for a bench trial, and was found guilty of aggravated battery and official misconduct.