WEIRTON, WEST VIRGINIA — A former West Virginia police officer claims he was fired because he refused to open fire on a suicidal black man.
Stephen Mader, also an ex-Marine, responded to a domestic incident at around 4 a.m. on May 6, involving Ronald Williams. Williams told Mader to shoot him, but Mader said his Marine threat assessment training kicked in and he decided not to fire. Instead he tried to talk Williams down.
Williams was reportedly drunk at the time and at his ex-girlfriend’s place. There, he’d threatened to kill himself or goad the cops into doing it, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop,” Mader told the Post-Gazette. Two other officers showed up and Williams walked towards them, waving his gun. One of the officers opened fire and killed the 23-year-old.
Williams’ gun was later found to be unloaded but the local prosecutor found the shooting to be justified.
Mader said he received notice on June 7 that he was fired because he didn’t eliminate the threat presented by Williams. The notice also reportedly cited other cases in which his superiors believed he hadn’t acted appropriately.