The Glendale Police Department has released their version of an arrest by officers, who had used a stun gun on a suspect 11 times on July 26, 2017.
The Departments’ narrative of the incident appears to be in conflict with the body camera footage from Officer Matt Schneider. Schneider received a three-day suspension for using a stun gun on Johnny Wheatcroft after he had stopped resisting arrest.
Wheatcroft alleges that one officer kicked him in the groin while another officer shot him with the stun gun in the testicles. The Department admitted that Wheatcroft was kicked by an officer, but claims he was tased in the thigh.
Wheatcroft was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest, but the case was later dismissed at the request of prosecutors.
According to a release by the Glendale Police, posted on Facebook, officers were in the area of 5900 W. Myrtle Avenue conducting intensive patrol due to increased crime reported in the area.
At about 7:30 p.m. on July 26, 2017, Officers Matt Schneider and Mark Lindsey contacted the occupants of a Ford Taurus after Officer Schneider observed a traffic violation, failure to use a turn signal.
The contact occurred in a parking lot, a property that was covered by a blanket trespass agreement between the City of Glendale. The officers approached the Ford Taurus and found it was occupied by three adults and two children, the police statement said.
Officers found that the driver did not have a driver’s license and one of the occupants was in violation of the seat belt law. The occupants of the vehicle were identified as driver Shawn Blackburn, 34, front seat passenger Johnny Wheatcroft, 37, and rear seat passenger Anya Chapman, 34. Two children, ages 11 and 6, also occupied the rear seat.
The officers noticed Wheatcroft reaching down below the seat into a backpack. Wheatcroft also refused to identify himself and failed to obey the officer’s instructions to stop reaching his hands beneath the seat into the backpack and in the area between the seat and console, the police statement said.
For the safety of themselves and those around them, including the minor children, the officers attempted to remove Mr. Wheatcroft from the vehicle so they could maintain a safe eye on him for the duration of the traffic stop as well as conduct a pat down for weapons.
Mr. Wheatcroft immediately began to physically resist the officers’ attempts to escort him from the vehicle while continuing to place his hands where officers could not see them. Officers displayed their Tasers and warned him of potential Taser use to gain his compliance; however, Mr. Wheatcroft continued to argue, yell and physically resist the officers’ control holds. Due to the physical resistance from Mr. Wheatcroft, the Taser was used in a drive stun capacity in order to gain control and avoid physical injury.
While officers attempted to detain Mr. Wheatcroft, Anya Chapman swung a bag filled with bottled drinks, striking Officer Lindsey in the head, rendering him unconscious. Seeing his partner unconscious, coupled with Mr. Wheatcroft’s continued resistance and the unknown threat from within the vehicle, Officer Schneider deployed his Taser, striking Mr. Wheatcroft.
Dealing with two adults that were being physically aggressive and had already assaulted one officer, Officer Schneider asked for additional officers to respond. As multiple officers arrived on scene, they tended to the injured officer and helped detain Mr. Wheatcroft as he was continuing to resist officers by kicking and screaming.
Mr. Wheatcroft was eventually able to be calmed down, and he and Anya Chapman were taken into custody without further incident. As officers continued their investigation, a usable quantity of methamphetamine was found within the vehicle. Mr. Wheatcroft and Ms. Chapman were charged with aggravated assault due to their actions, in which Ms. Chapman subsequently plead guilty.
Fire personnel responded to the scene to evaluate Mr. Wheatcroft and the injured officer. Mr. Wheatcroft refused medical attention. The officer that was struck was transported to a local valley hospital for medical treatment and returned to full duty several days later.
The detailed statement by the police department appears to be at variance with the body cam video in many respects.
This story will be updated.