West Virginia Cop Terminated for Not Shooting
News| | By Matthew D'Onofrio
Backwards thinking prevails again in law enforcement as apparently not ending a life garners enough reason to get fired, and without pension.
West Virginia police officer Stephen Mader is now unemployed on the grounds of putting two fellow cops in danger by not eliminating a perceived threat – a man with an unloaded gun held at his side.
“I [calmly] told him, ‘Put down the gun,’ and he’s like, ‘Just shoot me.’ And I told him, ‘I’m not going to shoot you, brother.’ Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it,” said Mader to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
On May 6, in Weirton, W.Va., a 911 call was made by Ronald D. Williams Jr.’s girlfriend who told police that her boyfriend was threatening to kill himself. Former-marine Mader responded to the domestic incident report and upon arrival at the scene assessed the situation as “suicide-by-cop,” – meaning Williams was intending to get himself killed by the police rather than himself.
“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it,” said Mader, who recalled using what he learned in his Marine and situational police academy training to not shoot immediately. Mader, standing behind Williams’ parked car on the street, noticed Williams’ silver handgun was in right hand yet not pointed at anyone but instead hanging at his side, aiming downwards at the ground.
Before the situation progressed, whether positively or negatively, two officers rolled up behind Mader and swiftly shot Williams dead.
Following the officer-involved shooting, an investigation showed that Williams’ gun was not loaded. Although there was no way for the cops to have known that, Mader’s read of Williams was correct – it was a suicide-by-cop situation.
Williams was a threat to only himself and it is terribly unfortunate his now 5-month-old son must grow up without a dad.
The tragedy only got worse when Mader returned to work on May 17 after following normal protocol to take time off. He was put on administrative leave for putting two other officers in danger, as Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander put it. Mader did explain his case but to no avail.
On June 7, Mader received a letter of termination which reasoned that by not shooting Williams, Mader “failed to eliminated a threat.” Although two other incident were mentioned in the decision, it is apparent this was the core reason for his firing.
And unlike most other situations where a cop is fired – which is a rare occurrence – Mader did not get to keep his pension. Due to being a probationary employee, Mader was able to be fired for any reason and an attorney told Mader the best possible situation for him would be resignation.
“I’ll take the termination instead of the resignation because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Mader told the attorney. “To resign and admit I did something wrong here would have ate at me. I think I’m right in what I did. I’ll take it to the grave.”
It was uncovered that Mader, who is a father to two sons under five, is currently studying to be a commercial truck driver but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he would consider another job in law enforcement if offered.
A former-Marine who served a tour in Afghanistan and did not unnecessarily take someone’s life probably deserves another chance more than others.