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West Virginia Cop Fired For Not Shooting Suicidal Man Settles Lawsuit Against City

“The termination of Stephen Mader was yet another incident exposing the toxic culture that infects far too many police departments in America."

GoFundMeGoFundMeA former West Virginia police officer who was fired after not shooting a suicidal man wielding an unloaded gun has reached a settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit that has drawn national headlines.

The city of Weirton, W.V., agreed on Friday to pay Stephen Mader, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty, $175,000 to dismiss his lawsuit against the city and the Weirton Police Department.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia and the law office of Timothy O'Brien filed a federal lawsuit on Mader's behalf last year, after the Weirton Police Department fired him for failing to shoot Ronald Williams, a 21-year-old black man Mader believed was trying to commit "suicide by cop."

"At the end of the day, I'm happy to put this chapter of my life to bed," Mader said in a statement. "The events leading to my termination were unjustified and I'm pleased a joint resolution has been met. My hope is that no other person on either end of a police call has to go through this again."

Reason reported last May, after Mader's lawsuit was filed:

Williams' girlfriend had called 911 to report he was threatening to kill himself, and that he had an unloaded gun.

"When I arrived at the scene, Mr. Williams was pleading for me to shoot him. He didn't appear angry or aggressive," Mader said in a statement. "He seemed depressed. As a Marine vet that served in Afghanistan and as an active member of the National Guard, all my training told me he was not a threat to others or me. Because of that I attempted to deescalate the situation. I was just doing my job."

Shortly after, another officer arrived on the scene and fatally shot Williams after Williams raised his gun. The gun was unloaded. State investigators later determined the shooting was justified.

Roughly a month later, Mader received a termination letter from the police department that stated he had "failed to eliminate a threat."

After the incident started to attract negative media attention, Weirton police officials held a press conference saying Mader had "multiple" prior conduct incidents. According to the lawsuit, the officer who shot Williams texted Mader after the press conference, and called him a "coward" who "didn't have the balls to save [his] own life."

Travis Blosser, Weirton's city manager, told The Washington Post the city is "pleased to see that the matter is over with."

Mader has not returned to law enforcement and now works as a truck driver.

"The termination of Stephen Mader was yet another incident exposing the toxic culture that infects far too many police departments in America," ACLU-WV executive director Joseph Cohen said in a statement. "We need to give law enforcement officers tools to effectively serve their communities. That means we need to invest in de-escalation training, implicit bias training and crisis intervention training. Hopefully the resolution of this lawsuit will send a message to the City of Weirton and police departments across the country that our communities deserve thoughtful, compassionate, transparent law enforcement."

Photo Credit: GoFundMe

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  • Jimbo||

    The sight alone of an assault thingy can kill! No ammo needed.
    Good kill!

  • Eidde||

    A cop called an ex-Marine colleague a "coward"?

    Good thing Mader actually believes in de-escalation and not shooting people unnecessarily.

  • Juice||

    Well, he'll never be a cop again, so it doesn't matter if he believes in de-escalation. He just wasn't a good fit.

  • Eidde||

    Eventually the truck company will fire him for letting another truck merge ahead of him onto the highway, instead of being a manly man and running the other truck off the road.

    /sarc

  • Carter Mitchell||

    Very astute. Being a cold-blooded killer is apparently now a prerequisite for working in "law enforcement".

  • Hank Phillips||

    Or if he takes the letter to heart and goes back and eliminates that particular threatening police department Rambo-style, they'll just whine and carp about something else. There really is no pleasing some cretins.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Messed up.

  • Griffin3||

    That whole story is past messed up.

    Officer [Ryan] Kuzma in his deposition, and to Mr. Mader in their confrontation, said he thought Mr. Mader could have "tackled" Mr. Williams if he thought he was not a harm to himself or others. But Officer Kuzma, who is a K9 officer, said he decided not to use his police dog on Mr. Williams because he would never deploy his dog at a "deadly threat."


    Fellow officer is more expendable than K9, better just shoot the citizen. There's your police priorities, right there.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    Want some more fucked up police priorities? A person's life is less important than *not denting a car*

  • Griffin3||

    Gruesomely on-point. Thanks. I wasn't interested in eating tonight, anyway.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Wow. Just wow.

  • ||

    The goddamned police dog has a safer job than your average roofer or landscaper. Jesus Christ if you don't deploy the dog at a deadly threat, what do you deploy it at? Only the threats perps suspects you can't outrun?

  • CE||

    At least they're consistent. With police dogs, they take no chances. With your dog, they take no chances. Only different outcome is for the dog.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The city of Weirton, W.V., agreed on Friday to pay Stephen Mader, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty, $175,000 to dismiss his lawsuit against the city and the Weirton Police Department.

    My cynical side says that Mader, being an actual Marine Corps veteran knows what it's like to have people actually trying to kill him, so he's not so panicky as your average police officer. But that's my cynical side.

  • CE||

    Didn't follow his training. Shoot first, get home safe. this town would fire Andy Griffith.

  • CE||

    Even though driving a truck is a more dangerous job than being a cop, and has no pension.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, a lot of that depends on the trucking company. Many company drivers have a reasonably good 'pension', as in a 401k like everyone else, and some union drivers have an actual pension plan. As to the danger, in both cases, it depends a lot on where you are, as in Kansas .vs Detroit.

  • Eidde||

    Alt-text: "And you didn't shoot me, either - thank you very much!"

  • Tony||

    *Blinks eyes in disbelief*

    Failed to eliminate a threat? He was punished for deescalating and not getting anyone killed?

    Yeah, I think we're right about this problem being systemic, in the training. The good thing about that is you can change systems and training.

  • CE||

    the bad thing is they won't

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    He may not have received de-escalation training, making de-escalation was not an option. Therefore, he's a coward.

  • croaker||

    The point being de-escalation is a lie. If you want to keep your job, kill the fucker.

  • Tony||

    Texted and called him a coward... I think I'd rather spend time in a room full of screeching drunken bachelorettes than hang out with cops. Whose bright idea was it to let the sad, fat bully in the back of the class grow up to enforce our laws?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm wondering if that cop had any actual combat experience.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Screeching drunken bachelorettes.

    Where and when? I saw these hen party videos. Would.

  • Agammamon||

    Yours.

  • Agammamon||

    Because those are the sort of people you need to enforce the 'nudge' when people won't 'voluntarily' do what you tell them too.

  • Ana 777||

    Good job done. You should have shoot him. Finally seeing some good headlines.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Gosh... the Republican Platform Dedication had me all convinced that the whole point of having First Responders™ was to shoot people down in cold blood--especially if they looked anything like Obama! What is the world coming to? Next thing you know some shirking deserter will refuse to kill a puppy. It'll be anarchy!

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Interesting suicide prevention technique: kill them before they kill themselves. Can't argue with the effectiveness.

  • SIV||

    I swear I've been everywhere, Was in Weirton last fall. Cross the Ohio and get a meatball sandwich at Capri in Stuebenville. You'll thank me forever.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Money Shot
    According to the lawsuit, the officer who shot Williams texted Mader after the press conference, and called him a "coward" who "didn't have the balls to save [his] own life."

    Cop who chose to protect and serve called a coward by cop who shot a man with a gun but no bullets.

  • yet another dave||

    ..."Hopefully the resolution of this lawsuit will send a message to the City of Weirton and police departments across the country that our communities deserve thoughtful, compassionate, transparent law enforcement."

    Hahahahahahaha!

    For a paltry $175K of taxpayer money?

    Hahahahahahaha!

    Now that is the money quote right there.

  • croaker||

    Nope. The message was make clear two years ago: Kill the perp if you want to keep your cushy job with badge and gun.

  • Longtobefree||

    And yet there are still a (dwindling) few who wonder how the cops self-select to the bottom of the barrel.

  • Finrod||

    That entire damn police force from the chief down all need to be in the unemployment line, with those state investigators right behind them.

  • macsnafu||

    Well, at least Mader got something out of it, but it certainly shows the nonsense that is infiltrating and influencing our alleged law enforcement officers. When did police become the enemy of civil society?

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