A West Virginia officer who was terminated by his department for not shooting a suicidal man is suing his department for wrongful termination, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
On May 6, 2016, then Weirton Police Officer Stephen Mader was called out to a domestic dispute where 23-year-old Ronald D. “R.J.” Williams Jr. was holding a gun. According to an account given to the newspaper, Williams told Mader to shoot him.
Two other officers later arrived to the scene and shot and killed Williams. According to the Post-Gazette, the gun did not contain any ammunition.
Mader was told that he was reprimanded because he put two other officers’ life at risk. After being placed on administrative leave, Mader was fired in June 2016 by the department.
Mader said he understood why his fellow officers killed Williams, but thinks he did not do anything wrong.
“Rather than respect Mr. Mader’s informed judgment and experience, the City of Weirton, in a flawed effort to buttress the other officer’s use of deadly force, wrongfully terminated Mr. Mader’s employment,” the lawsuit reads, in part, according to the Post-Gazette. “When that termination came to light in the local press, the City then engaged in a pattern of retaliation designed to destroy Mr. Mader’s reputation.”
The ACLU is backing Mader's case.
“The message [the city] is sending is: When in doubt, shoot to kill or lose your job,” Tim O’Brien, a Pittsburgh attorney who is representing Mr. Mader, told the Post-Gazette.
Representatives from the city did not comment to the paper on the lawsuit