Penzone: Officers are often ‘premature in choosing’ tools like stun guns

Feb 12, 2019, 7:23 PM
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone says officers often turn to tools such as stun guns too quickly these days.

He told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that he remembers incidents being more “hands-on” when he was a younger officer, at a time when tools like Tasers weren’t widely available.

“Because the tools are so readily accessible and seem to mitigate threats immediately, I do think we’re premature in choosing them, and we’re premature in using them, and we’re premature in abusing them, so that’s something that we collectively have to look at in law enforcement,” Penzone said.

He called the 2017 incident in which a Glendale police officer shocked a suspect with a stun gun 11 times “disappointing.”

Penzone said he has not viewed all of the body cam footage from the event, but he has seen pieces of it.

“In cases such as these, I think any common citizen without law enforcement training can look at it and have considerable concern as to why, how, what the application was, and was it necessary?” he said.

Johnny Wheatcroft, 37, was a passenger in a silver Ford Taurus that included his 11- and 6-year-old children when the car was pulled over in a Motel 6 parking lot for an alleged turn signal violation.

The traffic stop soon turned violent once Schneider used a Taser on Wheatcroft approximately 11 times, including on his genital area, in front of his children, wife and friend.

Penzone said he hopes to see more officers intervene when their colleagues use what may be excessive force.

“It’s something that we want to see more of, which is leadership in those moments by everybody saying ‘hey, woah, woah, tap the breaks, that’s not appropriate,’ in handling it, but human nature is human nature, and we have to work and correct that,” he said.

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Penzone: Officers are often ‘premature in choosing’ tools like stun guns