Stephen Mader was a rookie cop in 2016, who ended up crossing paths with a man named R.J. Williams in the early morning of May 6th, 2016. Mader was responding to what was reported as a domestic disturbance.
Upon arrival, Mader found Williams with his hands behind his back. Mader ordered Williams to show his hands, and that’s when Mader saw the gun. Williams didn’t point it at Mader, or make any threatening gestures. He merely refused to drop the weapon, saying “Just shoot me.”
That’s when Mader knew this was not a normal situation. He knew that Williams was trying to commit suicide by cop. Mader made the decision that he was not going to help someone in obvious pain and crisis make their final bad decision that night.
He said “I’m not going to shoot you brother. I’m not going to shoot you,” continuing to use his military training to de-escalate the situation. As he was trying his hardest to save a life, two other cops arrived on the scene and in a matter of seconds, these executioners fired 4 rounds into Williams, killing him. After the fact, Mader was proven right — Williams’ gun was not loaded.
Mader did what cops are supposed to do — Protect and Serve. Weeks later, he got his reward.
Mader, a white cop, made the decision to not summarily execute a Williams, a black man. As a result, Mader was fired by his police department.
That’s when Mader took on the cops — and won. Mader sued, pushing the case that he was improperly fired because the police department “disciplined” him for not violating the constitutional rights of Williams.
Under the 4th amendment, the constitution says that police cannot use deadly force if a suspect is not an imminent threat to anyone. Mader correctly recognized that Williams was not a threat to anyone, except himself, due to the behavior that Mader immediately recognized.
Mader’s former employer, the Weirton West Virginia Police Department, proved that it essentially has a policy to shoot first and as questions later when it comes to people of color. Mader, with the help of the ACLU, made this apparent in court and got some measure of justice for Williams by showing that Mader’s firing was a violation of West Virginia public policy.
This issue just re-exposes the literally lawless culture that our modern militarized police operate under these days. There’s no evaluation of a situation. No critical thinking is required. All solutions can be found within your gun and they can be quickly dispensed by knee-jerking the trigger until the thing stressing you out is no longer alive.
Mader won $175,000 in a settlement against his former employer, but that sum is a gross insult to the town of Weirdon for the loss of a community servant such as him. Now, their residents will sleep a little more restless knowing that taxpayer-funded executioners police their streets and good servants like Stephen Mader are not welcome among them.