Johnny Wheatcroft (2017)

From LEO Ratings

Overview

On July 27, 2017, Glendale Arizona Police Department officers Mark Lindsey and Matt Schneider stopped a vehicle in which Wheatcroft was a passenger for an alleged turn signal violation. The car was driven by Wheatcroft's friend, Shawn Blackburn. Wheatcroft's wife, Anya Chapman, and their two children, age 11 and 6, were in the back seat.[1]

As shown on body camera footage[2] and described in Wheatcroft's federal lawsuit[3], police tased Wheatcroft a total of 11 times. The last tasing came with Wheatcroft handcuffed, on his stomach, with an officer kneeling on his back, as Schneider kicked him in the groin and pulled down his athletic shorts to tase him in his testicles.[1]

Later, it is alleged that Schneider also placed his Taser on Wheatcroft’s penis and offered to deploy it.[3]

Wheatcroft did not receive medical treatment and officers failed to take photographs of the injuries despite department policies.[3]

Wheatcroft and Chapman, who were arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, spent months in jail after the incident because they couldn’t afford bail.[1] Chapman agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to get home to her children. [1] The charges against Wheatcroft were dismissed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office after prosecutors saw the body camera video.[1]

October 2017, the County Attorney’s Office declines to prosecute Schneider. [4]

On September 26, 2018, Assistant Chief Rich LeVander notified Schneider of a 30-hour suspension without pay "based on your violation of City of Glendale Human Resources Policies and Procedures and Glendale Police Department General Orders." The report also stated that "the findings of this investigation sustained allegations made against you. Your misconduct constitutes major performance deficiencies and gross negligence in the performance of your job responsibilities" and "the amount of force you used against the suspect was unreasonable and unnecessary".[5]

The case was sent to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which declined to prosecute any of the officers involved because there was not a "reasonable likelihood of conviction."[6]

Nov 5, 2018, Wheatcroft and Chapman sue the city, Schneider, Lindsey, and Michael Fernandez based on First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations.[3]

Feb 12, 2019, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers issued a statement.[7]

Feb 13, 2019, Maricopa County Attorney's Office has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the case.[8]

Governor said the investigation was whitewashed and wanted the county attorney's office re-open the investigation to "get to the bottom of what happened there and hold people accountable."[9]

Feb 13, 2019, an investigative TV reporter highlights how the police could not have seen a turn signal violation based on the positioning of their cruiser and the car Wheatcroft was in.[10]

June 2020, MCAO sends the case to the Attorney General's Office because County Attorney Allister Adel declared a conflict due to Schneider coaching her sons.[11]

September 9, 2021, criminal charges were brought by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office against Schneider. He was charged with three counts of aggravated assault — all Class 6 felonies.[11]

On February 22, 2022, a U.S. District Count judge ruled that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on the charge of excessive force and violation of familiar interests in the civil lawsuit.[12]

In September 2022, Wheatcroft and the city settled the civil lawsuit.[13]

On January 20, 2023, Schneider pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was fined $100.[13]

Video

Bodycam footage
Hotel surveillance footage released by Glendale police

Officers Involved


Official Reports

Additional Sources

ABC15 Arizona investigative reporters David Biscobing, Gerard Watson, Shawn Martin (etc) won the 2020 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism for their series of stories on this incident.[14]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Dave Biscobing, Abuse of Force: Body camera video shows man tased 11 times by Glendale officers, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-08
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbTO1nGU1Sg Body camera footage], Youtube, 2017-07-27
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Wheatcroft v. Glendale, United States District Court, 2018-11-05
  4. Dave Biscobing, Lawyer: County attorney to relook at Glendale police tasing incident, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-12
  5. Rich LeVander, Notice to Suspend Without Pay, Glendale Police Department, 2018-09-26
  6. Dave Biscobing, Comment by Maricopa County Attorney's Office, twitter.com, 2019-02-11
  7. Max Walker Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers issues statement on incident where man was tased 11 times, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-12
  8. Max Walker, Maricopa County Attorney forwards Glendale tasing incident to FBI for review, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-13
  9. Gov. Ducey wants Glendale police tasing investigation reopened, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-13
  10. Dave Biscobing, Experts: Glendale officer who tased man 11 times could not have seen alleged turn signal violation, ABC 15 Arizona, 2019-02-13
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dave Biscobing, AG's Office files charges against Glendale officer who tased handcuffed man in groin, ABC 15 Arizona, 2021-09-09
  12. Wheatcroft v. Glendale, U.S. District Court, 2022-02-22
  13. 13.0 13.1 Perry Vandell, No jail time for former Glendale officer who repeatedly used stun gun on handcuffed man, azcentral, 2023-01-25
  14. 2020 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism