WEIRTON, W.Va. (WTRF) - A settlement agreement has been reached between a former Weirton police officer and the City of Weirton in a recent lawsuit.
According to a press release, the lawsuit challenged the termination of former Weirton police officer Stephen Mader's employment because he chose not to shoot and kill a black man whom he concluded did not pose a threat warranting the use of deadly force.
The Law Office of Timothy O'Brien and the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) reportedly sued the City of Weirton wrongful termination on behalf of Mader in May 2017. In part, the lawsuit argued that terminating a police officer for failing to shoot a person the officer deemed no threat to the officer or others was in violation of West Virginia public policy.
The City of Weirton, among other relief, paid Mader a total of $175,000 to dismiss the lawsuit under the terms of the settlement.
In May 2016, Mader was the first responding officer on the scene of an alleged domestic disturbance.
According to the press release, when Mader arrived, he reportedly encountered R.J. Williams, a young black man. During their interaction, Mader discovered that Williams was holding a gun.
During a brief standoff between the two, Williams reportedly pleaded with Mader to shoot him. Mader believed that Williams, who was obviously distraught, was attempting to commit suicide by cop, and decided to try to deescalate the situation.
According to reports, when two officers arrived on the scene, one of them opened fire and killed Williams.
It was later discovered that Williams's gun was unloaded.
Mader was reportedly placed on probation immediately after the incident, and was fired from his job a short time later.
“We are pleased that Mr. Mader’s case has been successfully resolved, but this should never have happened,” said Timothy O’Brien, Lead Counsel, in a press release. “No police officer should ever lose their job—or have their name dragged through the mud-- for choosing to talk to, rather than shoot, a fellow citizen. Mr. Mader is a Marine and Afghanistan war veteran who served his country and community with competence and courage. His decision to attempt to de-escalate the situation should have been praised not punished. Simply put no police officer should ever feel forced to take a life unnecessarily to save his career.”
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