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Cop In Beating Case Broke Rules By Not Turning on Mic

Cop In Beating Case Broke Rules By Not Turning on Mic

Chicago Sun-Times via YellowBrix

March 11, 2011

STREAMWOOD, IL – A Streamwood cop videotaped beating a man as many as 15 times with his baton during a traffic stop broke department rules when he failed to use a microphone that would have also recorded audio of the incident, his deputy chief testified in court Thursday.

Who said what and when during the ugly scene in the early hours of March 28 could prove crucial in the trial of officer James Mandarino, who faces felony aggravated battery and official misconduct charges for the alleged attack on 28-year-old Ronald Bell.

Defense attorneys allege Bell, his brother and a third passenger who was twice tasered at the scene were uncooperative when Mandarino pulled them over for reckless driving outside Bell’s home in the 200 block of Juniper Circle, forcing Mandarino to use his baton.

But without an audio recording to document the dispute, Judge Thomas Fecarotta will have to make sense of conflicting accounts of the moments before the beating.

Testifying for the prosecution at Rolling Meadows courthouse as the bench trial entered its third day Thursday, Streamwood’s Deputy Police Chief James Keegan said Mandarino should have been wearing a radio microphone linked to his squad car’s video camera when he pulled Bell over.

Mandarino’s “use of the baton was inappropriate and unnecessary” and led to his dismissal in June last year, he added, also criticizing Mandarino’s decision to draw his handgun during the dispute.

Keegan agreed Mandarino had been an “outstanding” officer in his previous 15 years with the department, but rejected the defenses’ suggestion that a $250,000 jury verdict against Streamwood in an unrelated federal police brutality case just two weeks before the March 28 incident had anything to do with the decision to fire Mandarino.

Bell and his brother also have filed a civil suit against the department.

Two fire department paramedics and six Streamwood cops who responded to the scene after the beating or saw Bell later at the police station all testified that Bell was angry and uncooperative. Several said he seemed intoxicated.

But paramedic Steven Beach testified, “I might not be too happy if someone hit me upside the head.”

And Bell’s neighbor Joshua Hall testified he witnessed the alleged attack and ran to help Bell, shouting “Woah, woah” to try to stop the officer. The video of the incident was played in court Wednesday. The trial is due to resume Monday.

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