In numerous instances, U.S. police have chosen fire their weapons and ask questions later, rather than take the time to comprehend and de-escalate situations. Though this has outraged millions, rarely are there repercussions for the officers who needlessly take lives.Considering this tragedy persists, it is curious – if not outrageous – that a police officer was fired for not shooting a man who was clearly in need of psychological assistance and posed no immediate threat to those around him.
On May 6, 2016, the former Marine Corp. veteran who served two tours – including one in Afghanistan – received a domestic disturbance call in Weirton, West Virginia. As MSN news reports, the female caller said a man named Ronald J. Williams was threatening to hurt himself. She later called again, informing the police that Williams had gone to the car to get a gun, but that it wasn’t loaded.
When Officer Mader arrived at the scene, he found Williams with his hands behind his back, visibly upset. Mader asked him to show his hands, to which Willaims showed that he was holding a silver handgun. It is pertinent to note that according to Mader, Willans never seemed angry or aggressive, just despondent. The officer pulled from his previous training, assessed the situation, and determined that Williams was more of a threat to himself than anyone else. It is for this reason he refused to fire his gun at the man, even when he pleaded, “Just shoot me.” Reportedly, Williams yelled it again and again.
“He wasn’t screaming, yelling, he wasn’t angry. He just seemed distraught. Whenever he told me to shoot him it was as if he was pleading with me,” said Mader. “At first, I’m thinking, ‘Do I really need to shoot this guy?’ But after hearing ‘just shoot me’ and his demeanor, it was, ‘I definitely can’t.'”
The officer gave his best trying to talk Williams down. “Everything was verbal,” he said. But then, another police cruiser drove up the road and that’s when the calm connection broke. When the officers stepped out of their cruiser, Williams started waving the unloaded gun around in the air. Within seconds, shots were fired and Williams was dead.
After a week passed, Mader received word that the West Virginia police department would be conducting an investigation into the incident, and that he would be placed on administrative leave. Weeks later, he was fired. According to the officer, the city then did its best to discredit him and his professionalism in the industry. “To tell a police officer, when in doubt either shoot to kill, or get fired, is a choice that no police officer should ever have to make…” said Mader.
Mader was hired as a probationary police officer after being honorary discharged in 2013. The town in which he was fired as an officer of the law is the same town he grew up in and graduated from high school. “I loved being a police officer. And for them to say because of this incident you’re not going to continue here was heartbreaking,” said Mader. “It had me questioning myself, should I be an officer.”
After being fired in June of 2016, the former cop fired a lawsuit against the city, claiming that he was wrongly terminated and that his constitutional rights were violated. He tacked on that the city thereafter “engaged in a pattern of retaliation designed to destroy Mr. Mader’s reputation.”
Fortunately, many police officers have offered their support for Mader after learning of the incident via national media.
Said Mader’s attorney, Timothy P. O’Brien:
“The City of Weirton’s decision to fire officer Mader because he chose not to shoot and kill a fellow citizen, when he believed that he should not use such force, not only violates the Constitution, common sense and public policy, but incredibly punishes restraint. When given the tragic, and, far too frequent unnecessary use of deadly force, such restraint should be praised not penalized. To tell a police officer, when in doubt either shoot to kill, or get fired, is a choice that no police officer should ever have to make and is a message that is wrong and should never be sent.”
“There’s the thin blue line, and one of the ironies of this case is that as we’ve seen across the county how many instances police have used deadly force in circumstances where that force is questioned, but nothing is ever done,” O’Brien added. “In most cases you don’t see training or suspension. When you contrast with what Officer Mader did and how he’s been treated, and officers who’ve used deadly force and how they’ve been treated, it speaks volumes to why we have a problem with deadly force in this country.”
When asked if he would have done anything differently, Mader replied:
“I wouldn’t change anything. Even after them saying that I failed to eliminate a threat and that it should have been handled differently, I still believe I did the right thing,” Mader said. “And a lot of people think I did the right thing, too. I know it’s not just me.”
I am Luke Miller, content manager at Truth Theory and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here