West Virginia Officer Tries To Convince Man With Unloaded Gun To Surrender . . . Police Chief Fires Officer For Not Just Shooting Him

weirton0518Weirton police officer Stephen Mader would seem the very model of courage after he confronted an armed man and, rather than just shooting him (which seems all too common today), he engaged Ronald D. Williams Jr., (shown left) in conversation to try to get him to drop the gun. He said the gun was not pointed at him and was by his side (it turned out to a unloaded and he believed it was a case of “suicide by cop”). He was speaking to the man when two other officers arrived and shot and killed the man. Mader was then fired. Why? Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander and his colleagues believe Mader should have just killed the man and been done with it.

As Radley Balko noted, we are so used to police just shooting people, Mader seemed a refreshing, if not inspiring, example of restraint. It was an example that Alexander did not want repeated.

The incident occurred on May 6th in Weirton, West Virginia, after a call from William’s girlfriend. She told police in the call that Williams was threatening to kill himself, not others. Mader (a former Marine) said that his training told him that the man could be engaged and potentially disarmed. He spoke to him calmly about dropping the weapon while positioning himself behind a car. The man told him “Just shoot me” and Mader was convinced he was just trying to commit suicide. He told him “I’m not going to shoot you brother.” The man would flick his wrist to try to get him to shoot but Mader kept behind the car and speaking with him. Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it.

It turns out that Mader was right. The gun was unloaded and, as William’s girlfriend said, he was trying to commit suicide. Alexander fired Mader for putting the other officers at risk by not immediately gunning down Williams and that he had “failed to eliminate a threat.”

We we have seen in other cases of elderly or disoriented individuals. This has included cases of police shootings with people “walking with a purpose” or holding a small screwdriver or holding a toy truck or reaching for a cane or other items. Here is an officer who correctly sized up the situation as a suicide by cop and tried to save a life.

The question is whether the people will stand for this. It is Chief Alexander who should be looking for new employment not this former Marine who grew up in Weirton, served in Afghanistan, and has two young boys to raise. What Mader has is guts and integrity. When those boys grow up, they will know that their Dad put everything on the line “to serve and protect.”

64 thoughts on “West Virginia Officer Tries To Convince Man With Unloaded Gun To Surrender . . . Police Chief Fires Officer For Not Just Shooting Him

  1. @JT
    “The incident occurred on May 6th in Weirton, West Virginia, after a call from William’s girlfriend. She told police in the call that Williams was threatening to kill himself, not others. Mader (a former Marine) said that his training told him that the man could be engaged and potentially disarmed. He spoke to him calmly about dropping the weapon while positioning himself behind a car. The man told him ‘Just shoot me’ and Mader was convinced he was just trying to commit suicide.” [Emphasis added]

    See The Guardian‘s “The Counted” re the number of people killed by US police, including how cases like the shooting of Williams are listed by police departments as “suicides”:
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database

  2. The question is whether the people will stand for this. It is Chief Alexander who should be looking for new employment not this former Marine who grew up in Weirton, served in Afghanistan, and has two young boys to raise. What Mader has is guts and integrity. When those boys grow up, they will know that their Dad put everything on the line “to serve and protect.”

    Huh??? What part of the dude had a gun, and was making movements did not come through from the link??? Mader wasn’t hired to be a Christian Therapist, he was hired to be a cop. From the link above:

    Mr. Mader is white and Mr. Williams was black. But Mr. Mader said the other two officers — who are also white — did the right thing given their situation.

    “They did not have the information I did,” he said. “They don’t know anything I heard. All they know is [Mr. Williams] is waving a gun at them. It’s a shame it happened the way it did, but, I don’t think they did anything wrong.”

    That’s right. The shooting was justified. The only thing that may be wrong is that Mader was fired. But Mader was not hired to exercise telepathy. There is no 20-20 hindsight at the moment when something is occurring. Mader did not know whether or not the gun was loaded, or whether or not the idiot was going to use it.

    IF Williams started waving the gun at the other two officers who just arrived, this is when Mader should have certainly popped a cap or two into him. b The Chief is right. Mader risked their lives by his inaction.

    There is an argument to be made that Mader also risked the life of others by not shooting Williams BEFORE the arrival of the backup. That gun could have been loaded, and Williams could have fired the gun and hit somebody in the vicinity. Depending on William’s gun, anybody within a half mile or more could have been killed. Read this, about celebratory gunfire:

    When a bullet is fired into the air, it can stay in flight for over a minute. On the way down, it gains a velocity of between 300 and 700 feet per second—that’s more than powerful enough to kill a human. Skulls can be penetrated at a velocity of 200 feet per second.

    On July 4, 1999, 9-year-old Brian Perez was hit in the head by a stray bullet. He died of his injuries the next day. At the time of Perez’s death, he was the 39th person to be killed by a stray bullet on a holiday in L.A.

    http://www.newsweek.com/celebratory-gunfire-new-years-eve-los-angeles-410598

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

      • Go to Cop School, and become a cop. Then, you can put your own life at risk in situations like this! Because, I suspect if some nut was waving a gun around in your vicinity, you would be far less certain of their intentions.

        Personally, I am not a “shoot first and ask questions later” sort of person. But I also don’t expect the police to risk their lives, and the lives of others, on the off chance the guy is just bluffing.;

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  3. My initial thoughts are that Mader, having seen combat in the sand, would already know what it costs to take a life, even when justified. So he was not a green recruit thrashing his way through the problem. He would perhaps show restraint wherever possible.

    It sounds like Mader had cover, and so was in a position to try to talk the distraught man down. He made a calculated risk under the limited cover of his vehicle. His instincts turned out to be correct. The implication is that others were not in immediate harm, but I do not know for sure. My question is, what happened when the other officers drove up? Mader remarked that, although unfortunate, the shooting was justified because the cops saw Williams waving his gun at them. They did not know what he did. Again, I assume that means that in his conversation with Williams he learned that Williams had no intention of shooting anyone and was merely trying to get the cops to shoot him. If he really did wave his firearm at the arriving officers, the poor man was doomed. The cops would have absolutely no way of knowing the gun was unloaded, or that he wouldn’t actually pull the trigger.

    If Darren comes in, I hope he can tell us what the protocol is for dealing with an armed suicidal suspect. Would it have been possible or advisable for the other cops to hang back, ready to intervene but perhaps not so close as to increase the pressure?

    I disagree with the firing of Mader. Regardless of whether the shooting was justified, he was in the middle of negotiations with a suicidal armed man when more officers drove up and escalated tensions. I would have thought that would make him run point. I do not know how rapidly this unfolded. If he had time or opportunity to tell the others to back off. Perhaps there was no time.

    I do not think he should have been fired. How can we prevent this happening again? If a suicidal man is trying to kill himself by suicide by cop, and he is armed, that is a very dangerous situation for everyone involved. It might not always be possible to save the man, especially if he’s so distraught that he actually starts shooting at people to make them shoot back. I always hope that we can save someone suicidal. Protect him or her in a crisis and heal their pain. Please tell me that the child he is holding in the photo is not his. That he didn’t just give up and do suicide by cop and abandon that boy without a dad. The existence of that child alone meant that his life was going to have some pretty spectacular joyful moments if he’d just push through.

  4. Squeaky – celebratory gunfire is a very dangerous problem, and reinforces the fact that a bullet fired straight into the air is still completely deadly on its way down. There was a horse that died because a bullet came straight down and shot all the way through its withers out through its heart girth. I think it needs to have very serious criminal consequences. It’s like letting loose an unguided missile (which I often describe drunk driving). It’s hard for cops to catch them. It’s part of a cultural tradition that sprang up in rural or undeveloped countries, and has persisted long after people should know better. If we would stop wasting money on the vacation train to no where, perhaps we could add some PSAs about the dangers of celebratory gunfire. Some people actually think the bullets are harmless when they hit.

    • A lot of People are really stupid. For example, all the people you see on TV shows getting knocked out by a rap to the head. No, you hit somebody in the head with something, you are very likely to fracture their skulls, and kill them. I read somewhere that there were a lot of people who killed somebody under the idea they were only going to knock them out. I can’t find that link, now.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  5. @Karen S.- We had briefly exchanged info about the case of rancher Jack Yantis in Idaho ( shot and killed by two deputies…he’d been called by dispatcher to put down his injured bull, hit by a Suburu).
    The Idaho attorney general issued a report in late July, nearly 9 months after the fatal shooting.
    You may have read about this already; if not, it might be of interest to you.

  6. Having only the limited information provided and assuming there is nothing further pertinent I made these observations:

    From the beginning, you DON’T use Tasers in a potential deadly force situation. So, that’s off the table and I’m not going to spend time debating it. Officers pointing their guns at this man is necessary and reasonable. A suicide by cop suspect is very unpredictable and he can go from relative serenity to homicidal at any moment. If he raised his gun and pointed it at the officers, then shooting him would be considered reasonable in most incidences. Nobody should have to die in second guessing someone when they could kill you with a single pull of a finger. That said, it is not mandatory to shoot anyone from a statutory or case law. The only mandatory killing is a court order to an executioner in a capital offense. I will explain this later.

    If “flicking his wrist” was not Aiming and Threatening then this is not necessarily at the present moment completely indicative of intent to wound or kill. Unless the deceased had previously shot at officers, engaged in an ADW previously, was an escaped prisoner from a state prison, or was a person wanted for an aggravated assault recently committed where he made a threat not to be taken alive I am hesitant to consider shooting him to have been necessary or reasonable.

    Now, if a person is actively engaged in shooting at someone or is likely to start shooting I can see a disciplinary action taken against an officer who is able to engage the shooter and by not engaging him he put the public or other LEOs at risk. From the information provided, I don’t see sufficient evidence this was the case in our article here, unless there is something not mentioned other than this info we have.

    I tend to look at the greater good in situations such as this. Look what happened might possibly had happened in the end, if the man had not been shot. The LEOs would go home safely, and the suspect surrenders and is sent to a hospital or mental health facility. Whatever reasonable means could have been used, who really cares? It is over with. Plus, the anguish avoided: God, whatever it takes for something like this to end well is fine with me.

    Since some things I assume are of greater importance to this chief than the life of this despondent man, think of all the paperwork and overtime the officer could have saved the chief by not shooting.

    I suspect if the officer contests his firing with whatever kind of civil service commission or court the chief and the city will fight it to the bitter end. (because that is what these kind of fool bureaucrats do) Eventually this officer will prevail. He’ll probably get hired by a better department in the mean time and when his former agency becomes enjoined to hire him back, the officer can take instead a big cash award and tell his old chief to pound sand.

  7. Darren – great post. I wanted to add that according to the suspect was shot and killed by the other officers who arrived on the scene. Unless I misunderstood your post, it sounded like you were saying he went to a mental health facility.

  8. Meanwhile, though this isn’t about police conduct, certain readers may not know that
    ;
    Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

    just one example of how False Flag Terror “Has Succeeded Consistently Against Audiences Around The World, For Millennia, To Compel War”

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/false-flag-terror-has-succeeded-consistently-against-audiences-around-the-world-for-millennia-to-compel-war/5545480

    *** other than simply denying this (without, of course researching it, truth deniers can always resort to shooting the messenger – in this case, the respected site Global Research)

    • bill mcwilliams – most historians do not believe Halder’s story. The little Communist arsonist was caught in a room in the Reichstag by the fire fighters and admitted to the act. Considering how fast the fire went, it is very possible they were not fireproofing the drapes in the building. There is a long list of notorious theatre fires.

      • Paul – Most objective historians are very aware of this as well as most of the other false flag operations in the article I cited. History professors who aren’t tenured are more likely to “go along to get along”. It’s naive to not know this, and your singing the Party song is unpersuasive.

        People whose income depends on them not speaking the truth – won’t. You have no excuse – other than intentional ignorance.

        • bill mcwilliams – we historians are all aware of the claim, but most historians don’t believe it, just as they don’t believe Speers when he said he did not know what was going on.

  9. Paul – Deny all you want to, but your denial is with the historical records of the trials at Nuremberg.
    Do you have any proof for your claim that Halder committed perjury? No, you don’t.

    • bill mcwilliams – almost all, if not all, the Nazis committed perjury during the Nuremberg trials. That is one of the problems with the trials. The problem is figuring out when they were telling the truth.

  10. Paul – Do you also deny the truthfulness of any of the other false flag operations listed in the article? Please cite proof for your claims, not simplistic denials.

  11. The police chief violated federal “color of law” statutes, including Title 18 criminal statutes. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice should criminally prosecute the police chief.

    This is a really big deal, subordinate rank & file police officers follow orders from superiors. All police corruption starts at the very top with police chiefs, mayors and union leaders.

    Mere resignation is not enough to deter police corruption, they need to be indicted.

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