On May 6 of this year, Weirton, West Virginia police officer Stephen Mader confronted a distraught and armed man after responding to a domestic violence call. “I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mader told reporters. A silver pistol was in 23-year-old Ronald Williams’ right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.
Officer Mader calmly told Williams to put down the gun. “Just shoot me, ” Williams responded, and jerked his wrists, suggesting that he was preparing to raise his weapon. “I’m not going to shoot you brother, ” replied Mader.
“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and de-escalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop,” he said.
Then two other Weirton officers arrived on the scene. Williams walked toward them waving his gun, and one of Mader’s colleagues shot Williams in the head, killing him instantly.
A West Virginia State Police investigation later concluded that the shooting was justified. Mader, in the meantime, faced an investigation of his own. In a meeting with his chief and the city manager, Mader was told that he was being placed on administrative leave, and that an investigation would determine if he would still be employed. “You put two other officers in danger,” the police chief told him.
Following the investigation, Mader received a notice of termination stating that by not shooting Williams, Mader“failed to eliminate a threat.”
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