Newly obtained body-camera footage shows police in Glendale, Arizona, using a stun gun on a man 11 times, including on his bare testicles, during a 2017 traffic stop.
Arizona’s ABC 15 and The Arizona Republic obtained footage that shows one officer kicking 39-year-old Johnny Wheatcroft ― who was handcuffed and lying on the ground at the time ― in the groin and using a stun gun on his testicles as his wife and two children plead with officers to stop. Wheatcroft is now suing the officers and police department for “excessive … force and torture.”
Warning: The video below may be graphic to some viewers.
Several independent law enforcement experts who reviewed the body-cam footage told the ABC affiliate that the officers’ conduct was unlawful and “outrageous.”
“That’s not even borderline. That’s inhumane,” said former LAPD detective supervisor T.T. Williams.
Wheatcroft had been in the front passenger seat of a silver Ford Taurus when police in Glendale stopped the car on July 27, 2017, for an alleged turn signal violation. Wheatcroft’s friend had been driving the vehicle.
Body-cam footage obtained by the ABC affiliate and the Arizona Republic shows officer Matt Schneider asking Wheatcroft for identification. Wheatcroft responded that he did not have an ID on him and asked why he needed to identify himself since he hadn’t done “anything wrong.”
Tensions rapidly escalated after Schneider accused Wheatcroft of “stuffing” something under his seat — an allegation Wheatcroft denied. Schneider then opened the car door and grabbed Wheatcroft’s arm, twisting it behind his back. The officer accused the man of resisting ― an allegation Wheatcroft also denied — before he deployed his stun gun for the first time.
A scuffle ensued.
Schneider and a second officer — Mark Lindsey — pulled Wheatcroft, who was entangled in his seatbelt, from the vehicle and stunned him multiple times. Wheatcroft can be heard shouting in pain as his two young sons, who were in the backseat of the car with Wheatcroft’s wife, shouted at the police to “please stop.”
The children, ages 6 and 11, were “terrified, screaming, and traumatized by the officers’ atrocious conduct,” Wheatcroft’s lawsuit says.
Glendale police said in a Friday statement that Wheatcroft had initially “exhibited verbal non-compliance by refusing to identify himself and failed to obey the officer’s instructions to stop reaching his hands beneath the seat.”
Wheatcroft later physically resisted the officers’ attempts to subdue him, prompting the cops to use their Tasers “in order to gain control and avoid physical injury,” the statement said.
As the officers were shocking Wheatcroft, his wife, Anya Chapman, used a bag “filled with bottled drinks” to hit Lindsey in the head, police said. Lindsey was knocked unconscious by the strike and Schneider called for backup.
According to Wheatcroft’s suit, which was filed in Arizona’s U.S. district court in November, the officers stunned him a total of 11 times.
Glendale police admitted that Schneider had used a technique known as a “drive stun,” in which a stun gun is held against a subject’s body, after Wheatcroft was handcuffed and had stopped resisting.
“The drive stun with the Taser device administered by the officer after the suspect was handcuffed and no longer resisting did not fall within our response to resistance policy,” a police department spokeswoman told the Republic.
The suit also accused Schneider of pulling down Wheatcroft’s shorts while he was handcuffed and “[tasing] his testicles and perineum, which was significantly and excruciatingly painful.”
Schneider then “placed his taser on … 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 … Wheatcroft’s head,” the lawsuit alleged.
Glendale police said they reviewed the incident and disciplined Schneider for administering the drive stun. The Republic said the officer was suspended for three days and remains on the job.
Wheatcroft and Chapman were both arrested during the traffic stop and were charged with aggravated assault. The pair spent months behind bars because “they couldn’t afford bail,” ABC 15 reported.
The charges against Wheatcroft ― who is currently in prison on an unrelated burglary charge ― were later dismissed. His wife pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Glendale police said officers found “a usable quantity of methamphetamine” inside the vehicle during the traffic stop though neither Wheatcroft nor Chapman faced any drug charges.
Wheatcroft’s lawsuit, which lists the city of Glendale, Schneider, Lindsey and a third officer as defendants, describes the officers’ conduct that day as “unlawful, unprovoked, unwarranted, unjustified, callous, depraved, vicious and evil.”
“When I saw this video, and this has never happened to me in my legal career, I couldn’t work anymore that day. I was so disturbed,” Wheatcroft’s attorney Marc Victor told ABC 15.