NewsAbuse of Force

Actions

AG's Office files charges against Glendale officer who tased handcuffed man in groin

Screen Shot 2021-09-09 at 11.02.31 AM.png
Posted at 11:00 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 21:58:08-04

GLENDALE, AZ — A Glendale police officer accused of tasering a handcuffed man in the groin and lying about the nature of the traffic stop has been criminally charged by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

A direct complaint was filed against Matthew Schneider on Sept. 9, 2021, according to online court records. He’s being charged with three counts of aggravated assault — all Class 6 felonies.

Schneider retired under an accidental disability claim in early 2020.

In July 2017, Schneider and other officers repeatedly tasered Johnny Wheatcroft, who was the passenger in a vehicle stopped for an alleged blinker violation.

In front of his two children, Wheatcroft was tasered nearly a dozen times. Schneider delivered the final tase to a handcuffed Wheatcroft by pulling down his shorts and stunning him in the testicles, according to body camera video and his lawsuit.

In February 2019, ABC15 exposed body camera video of the disturbing incident, and it immediately drew national attention and outrage.

Surveillance video also showed Schneider likely lied about witnessing the alleged blinker violation, experts said.

Multiple independent law enforcement experts, who reviewed the incident, said Schneider’s conduct was unlawful and one of the most cruel and troubling cases of police misconduct they’ve ever seen.

Without public exposure, it’s unlikely the case would have been investigated further.

The AG’s Office was forwarded the case in June 2020 by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Under former County Attorney Bill Montgomery, MCAO initially declined to file charges against Schneider in 2017.

County attorney Bill Montgomery answers questions about Glendale tasing case

But the business day after ABC15’s initial 2019 report, the FBI opened a criminal investigation into the matter.

Once the FBI opened their investigation, an MCAO spokesperson said federal agents asked the office if it would re-evaluate the case for state-level charges.

FBI will review incident where Glendale officers tase man nearly a dozen times

In 2020, the newly-appointed county attorney, Allister Adel, declared a conflict and had the case sent to the AG’s Office. A spokesperson said Schneider had once coached Adel’s sons in little league.

Glendale conducted an internal investigation into the case and suspended Schneider for three days.

Schneider, who was one of Glendale’s top arrest leaders, has been suspended or disciplined by the city at least six times, according to his personnel file. The issues range from excessive force in the Wheatcroft incident to persistent workplace harassment against a female officer in his unit.

RELATED: COPS producer stages interview on show involving Glendale officer from tasering incident

Schneider is no longer on the job. In March 2020, Glendale’s city pension board approved Schneider’s early retirement for an accidental disability claim. Details about the nature of his disability are confidential.

A charging decision at the federal level has been pending for more than a year.

The City of Glendale sent ABC15 the following emailed response.

"The City of Glendale and their police department are aware of the criminal complaint filed by the Attorney General’s Office against former Officer Matthew Schneider.

When this incident took place, the Glendale Police Department conducted a criminal investigation and submitted a report to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO). That report included possible charges against former Officer Schneider. After reviewing the report and videos, which have since been widely circulated through the media, MCAO notified the Glendale Police Department that they would not be filing charges. The Glendale Police Department then conducted an internal investigation, in line with the City’s policies and procedures, that resulted in discipline against former Officer Schneider.

The City will fully cooperate with any requests made by the Attorney General’s Office. 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."

A civil lawsuit filed by Wheatcroft is still ongoing.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.