A Kentucky cop was accused of excessive force for nearly two decades. Now he’s heading to federal prison for tasing and arresting a man who swore at him.
Matthew Corder, 52, was sentenced to 27 months on Monday for violating Deric Baize’s civil rights—an incident captured on Corder’s body camera and which the Department of Justice used to seal his conviction.
The October 2014 tussle began when Baize came home to find Corder’s squad car in front of his trailer and asked him to park elsewhere.
Corder, who had been responding to another call in the trailer park, told Baize to mind his own business. In response, Baize told Corder to “fuck off,” twice, before he entered his residence, prosecutors say.
But the officer wouldn’t let it go.
Corder banged on Baize’s front door and ordered him to come outside. “You’re gonna come out here or you’re gonna be issued [a citation],” Corder said, according to court documents reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Baize again refused to exit his trailer and told Corder to get a warrant.
“I don’t need no warrant, dude,” Corder replied. “Right now you were out here hollering at me, and you ran in, which means there’s exigent circumstances, so back yourself out here.”
Corder then stepped inside the trailer and wrestled Baize to the ground, saying, “I ain’t playing with you. You’re about to get your ass tased.” Seconds later, Corder tased Baize in the neck, the side, and the back, court papers say.
It’s not the first time Corder allegedly abused his authority.
According to prosecutors, in 1997, while working for the Louisville Police Department, he pepper-sprayed a man’s face during a traffic stop. A year later, he allegedly broke a black suspect’s nose with a flashlight. (The man, Adrian Reynolds, would later die of unrelated injuries in jail.)
In 2002, Corder allegedly pulled out his gun and handcuffed a tow-truck driver who came to repossess his SUV. He released the driver after he agreed to let Corder keep his vehicle, prosecutors say.
Yet Corder’s career in law enforcement didn’t end until 2015, when authorities determined he filed a false report to arrest Baize.
According to court papers, Baize apologized for swearing as the deputy handcuffed him.
“Fuck that. You get to go to jail tonight,” Corder seethed in his own body-cam footage, before adding, “I told you that you was gonna get tased, didn’t I, if you didn’t put your hands behind your back?”
“That’s why I was asking you why…” Baize tried telling Corder.
“You know why, Slick,” Corder fumed. “You sit up there and tell me to fuck off?”
After Corder threw Baize into the patrol car, he warned, “Next time you tell a police officer to fuck off, you might want to think about it.”
Corder charged Baize with disorderly conduct, fleeing and evading, and resisting arrest. But a sheriff’s office supervisor reviewed Corder’s arrest report and body camera footage and determined there wasn’t enough evidence against him.
Even though the charges were dropped, Baize would spend two weeks in jail, lose his job, and get evicted from his trailer, court papers show.
Baize was unable to file a civil suit, prosecutors say, because the Bullitt County district attorney had him sign a probable cause stipulation before the charges were dropped.
The sheriff forwarded the Corder probe to the FBI, according to WDRB, which first published Corder’s body-cam footage.
After a four-day trial in July, a jury convicted Corder of two counts of willfully depriving Baize of his constitutional rights under color of law. He faced 11 years in prison for the charges, the Courier-Journal reported.
When reached by phone Tuesday, Corder declined to comment on the case but said he plans to appeal his conviction.
Corder’s attorney, Donald Meier, did not return messages for comment.
Court papers show Meier asked for probation or home incarceration for Corder, stating that losing his job “is a significant, serious punishment.” As a convicted felon, Corder’s plans of becoming an aircraft mechanic in the future are ruined, Meier wrote.
“To place Mr. Corder, a former law enforcement officer, in prison, can be problematic and possibly place him in a situation more dangerous and punitive than what would be the case for an ordinary citizen,” Meier wrote.
The attorney made note of multiple awards Corder received over the years, including a Medal of Valor for disarming a man threatening customers at a White Castle.
“Mr. Corder has no criminal record,” Meier said in court papers. “He is absolutely not a danger to society. He has no desire, nor possibility of ever becoming a law enforcement officer again.”
The feds, however, didn’t take Corder’s past lightly.
Prosecutors said Corder was fired from three law enforcement agencies over his 15-year career as a police officer.
Corder was allegedly investigated four times for excessive force during his employment with Louisville police from 1991 to 2003. The department reprimanded him twice for conduct unbecoming an officer and suspended him for insubordination, prosecutors say.
In 2009, Corder joined the Audubon Park Police Department but was allegedly fired during his probationary period over an off-duty road rage incident. He was employed by the Bullitt County sheriff’s office from 2013 to 2015.
Prosecutors noted two prior incidents where Corder “abused his official authority to retaliate against civilians who disrespected him,” court papers show.
In June 1997, a painter identified only as “J.W.” and two coworkers were stuck in rush-hour traffic on Interstate 265. They decided to follow several other vehicles using an emergency lane to access the exit, court papers state.
Corder blocked J.W.’s van when he attempted to drive around Corder’s patrol car to reach the exit. Then the cop got out, pointed his gun at the crew and ordered, “Put your fucking hands in the air,” prosecutors allege.
Corder allegedly grabbed J.W., handcuffed him and shoved him into the squad car. At one point, J.W. yelled, “Fuck you,” to which Corder replied, “What the fuck did you say, boy?” before pepper spraying J.W. in the face.
Corder arrested J.W. on charges of reckless driving and resisting arrest. The case was eventually dismissed, and J.W. filed a civil lawsuit alleging Corder violated his civil rights. The city settled the suit for an undisclosed sum, court papers state.
In October 2002, Corder ambushed three agents who were attempting to repossess his Lincoln Navigator. The supervisory agent showed Corder paperwork to identify themselves, but Corder said he didn’t care who they were—he’d shoot anyone who moved, prosecutors claim.
When the tow-truck driver asked the supervisor to call cops, Corder brandished his badge and barked, “I am the fucking police,” court documents allege.
Corder allegedly pushed the driver against his patrol car and arrested him for disorderly conduct. Then the cop made a deal: He’d release the driver if the repo agents would leave and let him keep his vehicle.
But before he removed the handcuffs, Corder warned the trio he’d arrest them if they reported the encounter to internal affairs, prosecutors say. (Corder's defense attorney denied any such deal at trial.)
Louisville’s then-police chief Robert C. White fired Corder over the incident months later. White also accused Corder of violating policy by moonlighting while on leave, when he was supposed to be recuperating from a car wreck, the Courier-Journal reported. (In 2006, the cop fought his firing but the police merit board unanimously upheld his termination.)
Jefferson County prosecutors charged Corder with tampering with a witness, unlawful imprisonment, and official misconduct among other violations. A jury ultimately acquitted Corder of all criminal charges.
Corder’s ex-wife testified that Corder had no idea of the repossession and that he believed the agents were thieves.
In 1998, Corder also came under scrutiny after the death of Adrian Reynolds, a black man who was arrested for domestic violence on New Year’s Day.
An internal affairs probe found that Corder punched Reynolds, 34, breaking his nose, but that his actions were justified, the Courier-Journal reported. Corder told authorities Reynolds attacked him and that he hit Reynolds with a flashlight to defend himself.
Reynolds died six days later of a blunt head injury, following a struggle with corrections officers who allegedly tried to stop him from suicide in jail. (That officer, Timothy Barnes, was acquitted during a 2002 retrial.)
The man had already arrived at the jail badly beaten by Corder, and his bloody mugshot spurred protests in Louisville. “It’s not brutality. It’s not racism. It’s police work,” said Rick McCubbin, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, at the time.
Reynolds’s mother sees things differently.
She keeps an enlarged photo of his swollen eyes and nearly unrecognizable face, injuries he suffered during his arrest.
In a 2002 interview, Reynolds told Louisville mag Today’s Woman that local police treat minority suspects differently. “I want justice, not just for Adrian but for all black men,” she said.
Last week, the mother-turned-activist told WDRB she was pleased with Corder’s conviction in the unrelated case.
“That old saying that goes around comes around,” Reynolds said. “Just wait, and it will happen.”