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*UPDATE: Former Cop Who Was Fired For NOT Shooting 21-Year-Old Father Files Lawsuit Against City
Last year, we told you about a former West Virginia police officer who witnessed the fatal police shooting of a young black man saying he was fired for not shooting the man himself. Well, he has now filed a federal lawsuit which revealed even more disturbing details of that tragic day. Check out the details below…
Stephen Mader was fired from his job as a police officer in Weirton, West Virginia, on June 7, 2016 ― for unsuccessfully meeting the “probationary standards of an officer” and showing “apparent difficulties in critical incident reasoning,” according to a federal lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed Wednesday on Mader’s behalf.
In an interview with HuffPost, Mader said it was around 2 a.m. on May 6, 2016, when he received a dispatch call about a man who reportedly had a knife and was threatening to harm himself.
When he arrived at the scene, Mader said, he found Ronald “RJ” Williams, a visibly distraught 21-year-old, standing beside the driver-side door of a car.
Ronald “RJ” Williams
“We got a call about a domestic,” Mader recalled saying to Williams after stepping out of his cruiser. “Do you wanna tell me what’s going on?”
“Nah, man. Nothing’s going on,” said Williams, according to Mader. “You can leave.”
As Mader continued to move around the vehicle, he said, he saw that Williams had his hands behind his back. Mader said that he commanded Williams to show his hands, and that after several orders, Williams complied.
“When we brought his hands from behind his back, he had a silver pistol in his right hand,” Mader told HuffPost. “I drew my duty weapon and I’m telling him, ‘Put the gun down, put the gun down.’”
“Just shoot me,” Mader remembered Williams saying.
Mader said he concluded that Williams was attempting to commit suicide by cop. “I’m not gonna shoot you, brother,” the Afghanistan war veteran recalled saying. “Just put down the gun.”
“Nah man. Seriously ― just shoot me,” Williams repeated, according to Mader.
The two went back and forth, Mader said, with the officer trying to coax Williams into putting his gun down. Soon, they saw another cruiser driving up the street toward them.
That’s when Mader says Williams turned his attention toward the approaching officers, randomly waving the gun between Mader and the others.
“Within seconds, shots were fired and the last shot fatally wounded Mr. Williams to the head,” Mader said.
Mader served as a Marine in Afghanistan before joining the police in Weirton, West Virginia.
Officer Ryan Kuzma, who fatally shot Williams, was placed on administrative leave, along with Mader and another officer. Hancock County prosecutors investigated the shooting and later determined it was justified.
A month after the incident, on June 7, 2016, Mader received a termination notice that said he “failed to eliminate a threat” when he didn’t shoot Williams.
Publicly, Weirton’s city manager said Mader was terminated for other reasons, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ― including for not reporting an elderly woman’s death as suspicious and allegedly cursing at a woman while he arrested her husband for disorderly conduct.
But Mader’s lawsuit argues that the department “terminated Mr. Mader’s employment because his decision not to use deadly force to shoot and kill a suicidal African-American male, made or could have been construed to make Officer Kuzma’s use of deadly force appear unreasonable or excessive under the circumstances.”
Officer Mader’s decision not to shoot was clearly reasonable,” Joseph Cohen, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia, told HuffPost. “He had articulable reasons why he thought that RJ Williams was not a threat. And once Stephen Mader believed RJ Williams was not a threat to others, he’s not permitted to use deadly force.”
“Once he made the decision [Williams] was not a threat, the U.S. Constitution says he’s not allowed to shoot,” Cohen added. “Not only was his belief reasonable, it was objectively correct. The gun was unloaded.”
Mader’s decision to talk Williams down instead of shooting him was based on his military and police training, the lawsuit states. Williams wasn’t aggressive, Mader told HuffPost, which led him to believe the man was only a threat to himself and that he wasn’t looking to harm anyone else.
“Saying the words ‘Just shoot me’ sent up the red flag that he was just trying to harm himself and no one else. He’s not here to hurt anybody but himself. That’s what made me make my decision. He needed help,” Mader said. – via huffingtonpost
SMH….The fact that this veteran’s correct decision to not shoot a suicidal young man led to him being fired shows just how ass-backwards many police departments are. If more officers were required to have the type of training and psychological mastery that Mader had, the number of unnecessary police shootings would drop drastically – instead he has been penalized for it. The way he was treated by other officers involved after this incident occurred is even worse and proves that the overall culture of our police departments needs to be revamped as well. What do YOU think of this story? You can read the rest of it at HuffingtonPost
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