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A former Arizona cop allegedly pulled down a handcuffed man’s pants and tased him in the genitals—all in front of his terrified wife and children.
“Keep fighting and you’re going to get it again! You want it again? Shut your mouth! I’m done fucking around with you!” the Glendale police officer said, with his taser on the man’s penis, according to a lawsuit the injured man later filed.
Now, the retired officer, Matthew Schneider, is facing three charges of aggravated assault after the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a direct complaint against him on Thursday, according to KNXV-TV, an ABC affiliate in Phoenix. The charges come four years after Schneider repeatedly tased Johnny Wheatcroft during an assault his lawsuit describes as “unprovoked, unwarranted, unjustified, callous, depraved, vicious, and evil.”
Just before the July 2017 incident occurred, Wheatcroft was heading to a Motel 6 to spend time with family in the front-seat passenger of a vehicle being driven by a family friend. After the vehicle turned into the motel’s parking lot, however, officers approached the car’s occupants and asked for IDs, allegedly because the car didn’t signal properly, according to body camera video.
Wheatcroft asked why he needed to provide ID to the police, saying he hadn’t done anything wrong, according to his lawsuit; he wasn’t even the driver. After telling Wheatcroft he needed to have his ID on him as a passenger and threatening to take him down to the station, Schneider opened the passenger door, put his Taser between Wheatcroft’s neck and right shoulder, and asked if he was going to fight, according to the lawsuit, which remains ongoing. Wheatcroft said he wasn’t.
Schneider then twisted Wheatcroft’s arm behind his back and began to pull him out of the car while he was still wearing a seatbelt, and another officer on the scene began to tase Wheatcroft, according to Wheatcroft’s lawsuit. Wheatcroft’s children can be heard screaming and crying in body-camera footage; at one point, one of the kids begged officers not to take away his mother.
“Get in front of the car right now,” Schneider told one of the children, who burst into tears, according to body camera footage. “You’re alright. You’re alright buddy.”
After Wheatcroft was handcuffed, Schneider tased him “several times,” according to the lawsuit. While Whatcroft was prone on the ground, Schneider also allegedly pulled down his pants and tased him in the testicles as well as the space between the anus and genital area, known as the perineum.
“Relax, stop being a big baby” Schneider later told Wheatcroft, according to body camera footage.
Police, however, have denied that Schneider used his Taser on Wheatcroft’s testicles and said that he instead hit him on the thigh, according to the Associated Press.
In 2019, Glendale police also said in a statement that Wheatcroft had reached into a backpack after he was asked to stop, that the car’s driver didn’t have a license, and that there was also a seatbelt violation in the vehicle, according to the Arizona Republic. Police also said Wheatcroft’s wife swung a bag of bottled drinks at one of the officers.
Both Wheatcroft and his wife were charged with aggravated assault and physically resisting arrest, the Republic reported, though Wheatcroft’s charges were later dismissed.
Officers said they had additionally found a “usable quantity of methamphetamine” in the car, though Wheatcroft and Chapman also did not appear to face a drug charge over the allegation.
Schneider was suspended for three days as a result of the incident, which later triggered an FBI investigation, according to KNXV. But he was ultimately able to retire under an accidental disability claim in early 2020.
It was unclear if he had retained an attorney to represent him in his new criminal case as of Friday morning; lawyers defending him and the city in the civil lawsuit did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
“The City will fully cooperate with any requests made by the Attorney General’s Office,” a Glendale police spokesperson said in a statement to VICE News after Thursday’s charges were filed. “The Glendale Police Department works tirelessly to maintain the respect of the community they serve. The Glendale Police Department wants the community to know that they are honored to serve and protect them and want to do so with a police force they can be proud to have representing them. As this matter is under litigation, we will have no further comment.”
Jody L. Broaddus, an attorney representing Wheatcroft in his civil case, told VICE News Friday morning that she had not spoken with Wheatcroft about the new charges against Schneider quite yet—he’s currently incarcerated on a separate matter—but noted he nonetheless is dealing with the fallout of Schneider’s actions many years later.
“We’re never happy to see officers charged,” Broaddus said. “But when they do bad acts, and they engage in wrongful conduct, then yes, then they should be charged. I believe most officers try to do a good job, so this one, I think, falls outside that box of what is appropriate.”