A judge convicted former Streamwood, Illinois police officer James Mandarino of aggravated battery and official misconduct after his dashboard camera caught him savagely beating an unarmed motorist.
The Chicago suburban cop hit 28-year-old Ronald Bell fifteen times with his baton, as Bell knelt on the pavement of his own driveway, not apparently threatening the officer in any way nor visibly armed. He had followed Bell into his driveway for a traffic stop after hearing the his tires squealing.
Mandarino had argued that he used his baton in self-defense, and that he feared for his life. "If I end up on the ground, I could be killed or seriously injured," he told Judge Thomas Fecarotta, Jr. during testimony. The defense opted for a bench trial in the case, meaning it was tried before a single judge and not a jury.
But Judge Fecarotta was unmoved by that argument, NBC Chicago reports. "I'm not saying Mr. Bell and [passenger Nolan] Stalbaum are upstanding citizens," the judge said as he read his verdict today. "However, if a picture is worth a thousand words, the video speaks a million. I just can't get beyond that video."
Mandarino had argued that Bell and Stalbaum, his passenger, were drunk and behaving combatively, and that Bell's brother, who emerged from Bell's home during the attack, made him feel surrounded and threatened.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Mandarino now faces up to five years in prison.
Watch video of the assault: