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Officer at center of Glendale abuse of force investigation to relinquish law enforcement certifications

Officer Matthew Schneider Glendale PD Abuse of Force
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 08:28:05-04

GLENDALE, AZ — The Glendale police officer accused of lying about a turn-signal violation and tasering the handcuffed passenger in the groin three years ago is poised to voluntarily relinquish his certification to work in law enforcement.

Matthew Schneider, who retired earlier this year and is currently under a federal criminal investigation, is listed on the Arizona Peace Officer Standard and Training Board agenda for June 17.

If approved, the voluntary relinquishment would end disciplinary proceedings launched by the state board after an ABC15 investigation exposed troubling details about a July 2017 traffic stop and Schneider’s conduct.

FULL COVERAGE: ABC15 Use of Force Investigation

During the stop, 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 a lawsuit.

In August, AZPOST investigators laid out a critical account of the incident in their official statement of facts.

In addition to the level and amount of force used by Schneider, staff detailed several issues with the accuracy and honesty of Schneider’s statements and account of what happened.

Among the key discrepancies highlighted by board staff:

• Schneider claimed he pulled over the vehicle for a blinker violation. But building surveillance video shows Schneider’s police SUV could not have seen the violation because it was in a back alley and out of sight.

• Schneider told Wheatcroft he needed to provide identification as the passenger in the vehicle or he would be taken to the station and fingerprinted. But state law did not require Wheatcroft to provide identification.

• Schneider claimed that Wheatcroft was not wearing a seatbelt. However, video clearly shows Wheatcroft was wearing a seatbelt.

• Schneider told investigating officers that Wheatcroft fought and kicked officers the entire time. But Wheatcroft never appeared to be the aggressor.

The FBI also launched an investigation following ABC15’s report.

In late May, the United State’s Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona confirmed they had received the case and have not yet made a charging decision.

While the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to provide specifics about the delay with finalizing a charging decision, former federal prosecutors told ABC15 there are likely a couple of reasons.

One could be that prosecutions against police officers often require approval beyond the district office from the Department of Justice in Washington. Another is Schneider’s defense counsel could be negotiating terms of a plea deal in advance of an indictment.

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