A white West Virginia police officer who reportedly didn’t fire a shot was terminated from his job after an armed black suspect was killed by a fellow officer in May.
Stephen Mader, who was a Werton, West Virginia police officer at the time, confronted 23-year-old Ronald D. Williams, who whipped out a gun during a tense exchange and ordered the officer to shoot him.
“I 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,'” Mader, a former Marine, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it. I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop situation.”
Suddenly two other officers arrived and Williams reportedly approached them while waving his gun. That’s when one of the officers ended up shooting him in the back of the head, killing him.
The shooting of Williams, whose gun was unloaded, was deemed justified following a month long investigation, but it was Mader, the officer who didn’t shoot, that found himself in trouble.
When he returned to work several days after the shooting he was informed that he would have to meet with Police Chief Rob Alexander, the Post-Gazette reported.
At the meeting with the chief and City Manager Travis Blosser he was told he was being put “on administrative leave and we’re going to do an investigation to see if you are going to be an officer here. You put two other officers in danger.”
“Right then I said to him: ‘Look, I didn’t shoot him because he said, ‘Just shoot me,’” Mader told the Post-Gazette.
After about a month he received his termination papers that cited him for “failing to eliminate a threat.”
The notice also mentioned two other incidents. One in April where he and two fellow officers reported the death of an elderly woman who apparently had a stroke fell in her home as suspicious and another in March where it was reported that he cursed at a woman who asked why her husband was getting arrested.
Mader said he knows the case will receive attention because of the media focus on white officers shooting black men but he insisted his colleagues acted properly.
“They did not have the information I did,” Mader said. “They don’t know anything I heard. All they know is (Mr. Williams) is waving a gun at them. It’s a shame it happened the way it did, but, I don’t think they did anything wrong.”
“Firing me for it, it’s less of an eyebrow-raiser then to say the other officers are justified in what they did — which I think they were,” he added.
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