Each day that goes by, and each story that surfaces about police brutality among people of color (usually officers killing them) becomes more and more frustrating. Here, we have an officer, Stephen Mader, who was not afraid – yes, we think that most officers who kill unarmed men of color are either prejudice or scared (and if you are a scary individual, there is no way you should be put on the streets to ‘serve and protect.’).
Stephen Mader a Weirton W. VA police officer at the time, on May 6th, found himself in a confrontation with an armed black man, 23-year-old Ronald D. Williams of Pittsburgh. Mader, who was a former Marine, used his training to look at “the whole person,” and decided not to shoot, but instead talk him down.
Mr. Mader, who was standing behind Mr. Williams’ car parked on the street, said he then “began to use my calm voice.”
“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.’ 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.
But just then, two other Weirton officers arrived on the scene, Mr. Williams walked toward them waving his gun — later found to be unloaded — between them and Mr. Mader, and one of them shot Mr. Williams’ in the back of the head just behind his right ear, killing him.
A month-long West Virginia State Police investigation later concluded the shooting was justified, a decision the Hancock County, W.Va., prosecutor, Jim Davis, announced at a news conference on June 8.
But a case that has been handled by local law enforcement from the first day on with some peculiar twists – failing to publicly name Mr. Williams for three days, the assignment of an investigator who left for a week-long vacation the next day and tension with Mr. Williams’ family — only got more peculiar.
Mr. Mader — speaking publicly about this case for the first time — said that when he tried to return to work on May 17, following normal protocol for taking time off after an officer-involved shooting, he was told to go see Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander.
In a meeting with the chief and City Manager Travis Blosser, Mr. Mader said Chief Alexander told him: “We’re putting you 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.”
Mr. Mader said that “right then I said to him: ‘Look, I didn’t shoot him because he said, ‘Just shoot me.’ ”
On June 7, a Weirton officer delivered him a notice of termination letter dated June 6, which said by not shooting Mr. Williams he “failed to eliminate a threat.”
Mr. Mader had this to say about the firing:
“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.”
Stephen Mader, you are a true unafraid hero for doing your job and using a rational thought-process. We are sure something good will be in store for you. You can sleep at night knowing that you did what you felt was right. How the other officers who came LATER on the scene (and likely made the situation worse), felt threatened, we will never know.