A former police officer from the Chicago suburbs argued in court Monday that he felt his life was in danger when he repeatedly beat an unarmed motorist curled up on the ground in his own driveway.
James Mandarino has been dismissed from the Streamwood Police Department for his attack of Ronald Bell, which was captured on his squad car camera. (Scroll down for video footage.)
Hearing Bell's tires squealing, Mandarino followed his car for around thirty seconds until it pulled into Bell's driveway. The officer emerged from his car, weapon drawn, and apparently ordered the men out of the vehicle. He hit the passenger in the car with a Taser, then brought Bell to his knees and struck him 15 times with his baton on the head, neck and arms.
Though the video is silent, nowhere does Bell appear to be holding a weapon, nor does he make any threatening gestures toward Officer Mandarino. "The victim is completely compliant," Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Alexander Vroustouris said to the Chicago Tribune last summer.
But Mandarino told a different story Monday in court. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
After Bell and [passenger] Stalbaum ignored his repeated orders to remain in Bell's black SUV during the traffic stop and appeared agitated, Mandarino feared they would team up with Bell's brother -- who had emerged from his home during the commotion -- and surround him.
Mandarino feared that "at any moment [Bell] could rush me," he told Judge Thomas Fecarrota.
"If I end up on the ground, I could be killed or seriously injured." ....
He needed to get Bell to the ground because the position Bell was in on his knees with his hands on his head was "a fighting stance ... like you'd see if you watch UFC," he said, his face reddening.
As NBC Chicago reports, Streamwood deputy police chief James Keegan already testified that Mandarino's actions were "inappropriate and unnecessary." Mandarino, who currently works for a $10-an-hour salary as a security guard at a chemical plant, faces two to five years in prison.
Watch video of the attack: