Police officer Stephen Mader of the Weirton, West Virginia police department did something a lot of cops have not been able to do lately – show restraint in a hostile situation. On May 6, 2016, Officer Mader responded to a domestic dispute with a weapon involved. Mr. Mader stated that upon arrival at the scene, he saw that the suspect had a gun but wasn’t pointing it at him. After evaluating the situation, Officer Mader used the knowledge he gained as a Marine deployed in Afghanistan and his situational police academy training to de-escalate the encounter. According to Mader, “I knew it was a suicide-by-cop” situation and “began to use my calm voice.” Officer Mader continued the dialogue by telling the suspect, ‘Put down the gun,’ however, Mader says the suspect kept saying, ‘Just shoot me.’ I told him, ‘I’m not going to shoot you brother.’ As the situation was being calmed, two other officers arrived on the scene to back-up Officer Mader. One of the back-up police officers noticed that Mr. Williams still had a gun in his hand, and immediately shot and killed the suspect. It was later learned that the gun Mr. Williams had in his possession was unloaded.
Instead of commending Stephen Mader for de-escalating the situation, the Weirton, West Virginia police chief, Rob Alexander, fired Officer Mader on June 7, 2016. Part of the justification for Officer Mader’s termination was that he endangered the life of the other two officers by not immediately shooting Mr. Williams. His termination notice stated, Officer Mader “failed to eliminate a threat.” The police chief and City Manager Travis Blosser also cited two other unspecified personnel incidents against Officer Mader as the reason for his termination.
Unlike countless other police officers that have killed unarmed civilians and were offered employment in other police jurisdictions, Mr. Mader has had no luck in finding another town or city to hire him as a police officer. After his firing, Stephen Mader contacted attorneys to try and contest his termination. But he was told not to waste his time and money because he was a probationary employee in an “at-will” state and could be fired for any reason. Due to him being fired, Mr. Mader has lost the right to collect any part of his police pension that he had paid into up the time he was terminated. In order to support his family, which includes two sons under five-years-old, Stephen Mader is trying to earn his commercial truck driving license.