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article imageOp-Ed: Police Brutality – Whatever happened 'To protect and to serve'?

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By Heike Winnig     Apr 16, 2010 in Crime
Streamwood - It was early morning on Sunday, March 28, in the village of Streamwood, Cook County. Suddenly, yelling and bright lights reflecting off his bedroom walls woke 36-year old Stacey Bell. Looking outside, he saw police brutality at its finest in his driveway.
On Thursday, Rummana Hussain, a Criminal Courts Reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times, reported that after looking outside and seeing his longtime friend Nolan Stalbaum being Tasered by a uniformed police officer, Stacey Bell, while running downstairs, heard his younger brother’s distressed screams outside.
“What the hell did we do? We didn’t do anything,” Ronald Bell, 28, yelled, while raising his hands in the air and kneeling on the ground as Officer James Mandarino ordered him to, Stacey Bell said.
Officer Mandarino raised his metal baton, as seen in the approximately 7-minute video captured by his own squad car camera, and struck Ronald Bell 15 times in the back, upper body and head. He suffered a concussion, seven stitches to his ear and multiple contusions and abrasions due to the beating by Mandarino. Ronald Bell was unarmed and complied with the officer’s orders to kneel on the ground, when Mandarino proceeded to beat him severely. “I told him [Mandarino] he didn’t have to do this. And he just said, ‘I told him to get down,’” said Stacey Bell, who witnessed the malicious attack on his younger brother with his wife and two neighbors. (Source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Mandarino, a 15-year veteran of the northwest suburban department, surrendered Thursday to face felony charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct. Officer Mandarino was released on $50,000 bail. He is on administrative leave from the Streamwood Police Department, reports the Chicago Tribune.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Ronald Bell was arrested that night and charged with resisting a police officer and reckless driving, but the charges have been dropped. The department became concerned after witnessing Bell's extensive injuries in his mug shot, and reviewed the video from his arrest. It was obvious to prosecutors after watching the video that Mandarino had used excessive force on young Bell.
As Mara Gay, with AOL News, reports today, assistant state’s attorney Alexander Vroustouris made this statement on Thursday, "The victim is completely compliant. At no time during the time period when the defendant is beating the victim with his baton does the video reflect that the victim had anything in his hands, nor does the video reflect the victim making any threatening motions toward the defendant."
Of course, Ed Wanderling, Mandarino's lawyer, said the silent video gives an incomplete version of the events and didn't record the language Bell used toward the officer.
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez thanked the Streamwood Police Department for informing the State’s Attorney’s Office so quickly after reviewing the video. She told the Chicago Sun-Times, the beating was “not only disturbing. It’s outrageous. It’s unacceptable.”
“It’s a wonderful tool. It’s a great tool,” Alvarez said of the videotaped squad car. “Even though there is no audio on this tape, it really gave us a clear, clear view of what occurred in this particular case. It was extremely helpful.”
Streamwood police officials would not comment but issued a statement that said: “Integrity serves as the foundation of the Streamwood Police Department operations. Nothing is more important than maintaining the trust and confidence our residents have placed in us. We believe that as difficult as it is, our actions in this incident reaffirm our complete commitment to the community.”
Ronald Bell has had some trouble with the law, his brother said, adding that Mandarino had no contact with the family before. Ronald Bell received one year of supervision for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2007, according to court records.
Officer James Mandarino didn’t comment after he was released around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, after posting $5,000 bond.
When will enough be enough? How many more of these terrifying, brutal events have to be suffered by innocent citizens, who are paying to be 'protected and served', before governments and police departments will make it mandatory that police officers receive serious psychological analysis on a regular basis? Though, the public realizes and appreciates that police officers perform their duties under tremendous stress much of the time, it is especially essential for them to have regular ‘emotional checkups’. It may not be fair to those officers who are good cops, but this is too much.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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