A married couple have sued the city of Glendale, Arizona, after police officers tortured the husband, Johnny Wheatcroft, during a routine traffic stop.
Body camera footage of the encounter—released by local news station KSHB—shows cops using a taser on Wheatcroft a total of 11 times, even though the man was neither resisting arrest nor under suspicion of having done anything wrong. Even worse, while Wheatcroft was handcuffed and pinned face-first on the ground of a hotel parking lot, an officer kicked him in the groin, pulled down his gym shorts, and used a taser on his testicles.
This happened while Wheatcroft’s two sons—who are 11 and 6—watched in horror from the car.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” said Jeff Noble, a former police chief who reviewed the footage for KSHB. “This is just beyond the pale.”
The incident took place two years ago, on July 26, 2017. Wheatcroft was in the passenger seat of a car—a male friend was the driver—and his wife, Anya Chapman, and their two children were in the backseat. They had pulled into the parking lot of a Motel 6 when two Glendale police officers, Matt Schneider and Mark Lindsey, approached the car, ostensibly for failing to signal a turn. The officers asked Wheatcroft for identification; he declined to provide it, correctly reasoning that only the driver needed to do so.
Schnider then opened Wheatcroft’s door, grabbed the man’s arm, and twisted it behind his back, causing considerable wrist pain. The two officers attempted to push Wheatcroft forward, contorting his body into an even more uncomfortable position. Next, they used a taser on him, over and over again. Wheatcroft ended up on the ground outside the car, with his legs still tangled in his seatbelt. The officers then handcuffed Wheatcroft, though this did not end the torture. According to the lawsuit:
Given the temperature of the asphalt, the officers’ contorting his body, and the tasing, Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft was writhing in pain while his family watched and screamed for the officers to stop. Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft was prone and handcuffed on the ground, when Defendant Schneider pulled down Plaintiff’s shorts and tased his testicles and perineum, which was significantly and excruciatingly painful.
Defendant Glendale’s officers then rolled Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft onto his side and began to remove the taser prongs that were embedded into his skin. As the officers began to forcibly remove the prongs, Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft screamed in agony and Defendant Schneider placed his taser on Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft’s penis and screamed, “Keep fighting and you’re going to get it again! You want it again? Shut your mouth! I’m done fucking around with you!” At this same time, one of the officers placed a handgun to Plaintiff Johnny Wheatcroft’s head.
I would encourage anyone who doubts that this description is accurate to watch the footage. Consider yourself warned: It is extremely disturbing.
Wheatcroft and Chapman were charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer—Chapman evidently hit one of the officers in the head with a bag during the confusion—and spent months behind bars because they could not afford bail. Chapman eventually plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to get of jail and reclaim her children.
Prosecutors dropped all charges against Wheatcroft after they reviewed the body cam footage. (Wheatcroft is currently back in prison for committing an unrelated burglary.) The Glendale police gave Schneider a mere three-day suspension: In a statement, the department neglected to mention the use of the taser on the groin, noting only that “a review of the officers’ actions has been performed and discipline implemented regarding certain tactics used by one officer.”
KSHB’s report notes that Schneider is an award-winning police officer who “represented Glendale twice on the TV show Cops.” It is appalling that the department still employs a police officer who deliberately used a taser on a restrained man’s exposed testicles.