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West Virginia Police Officer Fired After Refusing To Shoot Black Man Carrying Unloaded Gun

The former Marine said he knew the man wasn’t a threat

Former officer Stephen Mader at his swearing in ceremony (City of Weirton/Facebook)

Suicide by cop. It’s a dark and depressing term meant to describe a person who intentionally baits a police officer into killing them as a passive aggressive form of suicide.


Stephen Mader is a Marine veteran and was by all accounts an outstanding cop. But he lost his job after refusing to open fire on a man who was holding an unloaded gun, trying to lure the 24-year-old officer into the suicide by cop scenario.

The West Virginia police officer was fired by his supervisors who said he put his fellow officers when he “failed to eliminate a threat.”

Journalist Shaun King described the fallout as such, “[H[e committed no crime. What he did do, though, was so compassionate and counter-cultural in the day and age where police so often shoot first and ask questions later, that his actions threatened to disturb the status quo.”

As described by Mader in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he approached the man who was holding a gun pointed at the ground. The man moved his gun, a gesture Mader recognized as not an actual threat but one meant to provoke him into drawing his own weapon.

“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,’” Mader told the paper. “I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was suicide-by-cop.”

Eventually, two of Mader’s fellow officers, both of whom are white, showed up and shot the man, 23-year-old Ronald D. Williams.

Ronald D. Williams Jr. (Courtesy of Poole family)

Mader said he’s currently seeking a license to drive a commercial truck. His story is beginning to get national attention and his former department heads have refused to publicly comment on the firing. Interestingly, he doesn’t criticize his fellow officers for their actions, agreeing that the shooting was justified. Rather, he’s incensed that he was punished for using the additional information he had on the scene to pursue a peaceful solution.

“They did not have the information I did,” he told the Post-Gazette. “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.”

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