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State police board votes to open disciplinary case against Glendale officer

Posted: 5:50 PM, Aug 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-21 21:28:23-04
Officer Matthew Schneider Glendale PD Abuse of Force

The state police board unanimously voted Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a Glendale officer who kicked a handcuffed man in the testicles, pulled down his pants, and tasered him in the groin.

Officer Matthew Schneider is also accused of making up the reason for the traffic stop that sparked the incident and giving an inaccurate account of what happened.

The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) opened an investigation after the ABC15 Investigators exposed disturbing body camera footage in a report earlier this year.

FULL COVERAGE: ABUSE OF FORCE

AZPOST’S disciplinary case could lead to the suspension or revocation of Schneider’s certification, meaning he can’t work as a police officer in Arizona.

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 a lawsuit.

Board members did not offer public explanation during the meeting about their decision to pursue discipline for Schneider.

However, board staff 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.

RELATED: Experts say Glendale officer could not have seen alleged turn signal violation

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.

In AZPOST cases, discipline for dishonesty is among the most severe, records show.

Untruthful officers are routinely suspended for months or years. In many cases, their certifications are permanently revoked.

After its own internal investigation, Glendale police suspended Schneider for three days for his level of force.

Glendale did not include any findings about dishonesty in their final internal disciplinary decision.

RELATED: Glendale records show half-truths, omissions in wake of tasering scandal

The FBI also opened an investigation into Schneider’s conduct after seeing ABC15’s report, emails show.

Schneider is still currently working as a Glendale officer but is assigned to an administrative position, officials said.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dave@abc15.com .