Maricopa County denies reviewing evidence in Glendale stun gun case
PHOENIX — The office of the top prosecutor for Maricopa County denied a report that it would review evidence in a case against a Phoenix-area officer who used a stun gun on a man about 11 times during a violent traffic stop in 2017.
“(The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has) not released a statement beyond what we provided yesterday,” spokeswoman Amanda Steele told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email Tuesday.
Marc Victor, the attorney for 37-year-old Johnny Wheatcroft, told ABC15 that County Attorney Bill Montgomery “personally told him” that his office would review the case.
However, the office announced Wednesday that it sent information from the case to the FBI for further review.
“After having personally reviewed all available video evidence, I have determined further investigation is warranted,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a press release.
“In order to ensure the public’s confidence in any future determination of whether the use of force was lawful, review by an uninvolved agency is appropriate.”
Wheatcroft is suing the city of Glendale and officers Matt Schneider, Mark Lindsey and Michael Fernandez, claiming excessive force in the July 26, 2017, incident when Schneider used a stun gun on him about 11 times, including at least once in his genital area.
Prosecutors, according to Steele, initially reviewed evidence in the case when it was first submitted and “determined there was no likelihood of conviction due to the totality of the events leading to the arrest.”
They also determined “at that time the actions of the officer also did not meet the charging standard of reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
Body camera footage of the 2017 incident was first uncovered last Friday, sparking outrage from the community.
Wheatcroft was the passenger in a silver Ford Taurus that was pulled over in a Motel 6 parking lot for an alleged turn signal violation.
Officers asked Wheatcroft and the driver for identification, which neither of them said they had.
The traffic stop soon turned violent once Schneider used a Taser on Wheatcroft. His young children, wife and friend were also in the car.
Schneider was briefly suspended after the incident but is still employed with the department.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement Tuesday that the city’s top priority is “public safety — expectation of transparency and accountability.
“I believe that it is imperative that we hold our police officers to the highest professional standards and our citizens have every right to expect nothing less.”
There was no monetary amount detailed in the lawsuit. Victor said he expects the case to go to trial, even though a date has not been set.
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