Federal complaint alleges excessive use of force by Glendale police in 2017 incident

A surveillance photo shows Glendale officers, including Matt Schneider, arresting Johnny Wheatcroft, in a Motel 6 parking lot near 59th and Myrtle avenues in 2017. Body camera footage shows officers shooting Mr. Wheatcroft several times with a stun gun. Mr. Wheatcroft is suing Glendale and the officers involved for excessive force. [Video courtesy Glendale PD via surveillance]

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — A man and his wife are suing the city of Glendale and three of its police officers, alleging they used excessive force during a 2017 traffic stop.

A lawyer for the couple said Glendale police body camera video shows officers using a stun gun 11 times on Johnny Wheatcroft after he questioned why he had to provide identification.

Attorney Marc Victor has scheduled a news conference Monday in Chandler to release the video and issue a statement about the case, according to his website. He declined to do either Sunday.

According to a news release Friday afternoon, on July 26, 2017, the Glendale Police Department was in the area of 5900 West Myrtle Avenue conducting intensive patrol due to increased crime reported in the area.

Around 7:30 p.m., Officers Matt Schneider and Mark Lindsey contacted the occupants of a Ford Taurus in a parking lot after Mr. Schneider observed a traffic violation, the release states.

Mr. Wheatcroft was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle driven by a family friend. Mr. Wheatcroft’s wife, Anya Chapman, was in the backseat with the couple’s two children as they headed to a motel.

Officers pulled over the car because of a traffic violation and discovered the driver didn’t have a license, police said in a statement Friday. Mr. Wheatcroft declined to show police his driver’s license and questioned why he had to provide identification.

The officers saw Mr. Wheatcroft reaching under his seat for a backpack and he “continued to argue, yell and physically resist” as they tried to remove him from the vehicle, police said.

The lawsuit said the situation then escalated with officers using stun guns multiple times on Mr. Wheatcroft, who was “writhing in pain while his family watched and screamed for the officers to stop.”

Mr. Wheatcroft was jailed on suspicion of aggravated assault and resisting arrest, but the charges were later dropped.

The lawsuit says police used “unlawful, unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive force” on Mr. Wheatcroft and violated his civil rights. It seeks damages to be determined at trial.

Police claim Ms. Chapman struck one Officer Mark Lindsey with a bag of items, rendering him unconscious. She was also arrested and later pleaded guilty to reduced charges of aggravated assault.

Police said one of the officers involved was suspended for three days after a review.

Glendale officials and the Police Department didn’t immediately return requests for comment on the lawsuit Sunday.

While body-camera footage was made available via multiple reports, Glendale police on Friday only decided to release a 30-second clip of surveillance camera video from a distance.

VIDEOGlendale police release surveillance video of assault on officer

Police said after detaining the couple, officers found methamphetamine in the vehicle.

“The Glendale Police Department is dedicated to remaining transparent with the community that we serve, and public safety is the top priority,” police stated in releasing the 30-second clip. “The Department recognizes that society expects accountability and we hold ourselves to the highest standards set by Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training as well as state law.  Per Department protocol regarding any response to resistance, a review of the officers’ actions has been performed and discipline implemented regarding certain tactics used by one officer.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.