West Virginia policeman fired after refusing to shoot suspect settles suit
A former police officer who said he was fired after not shooting a man wielding an unloaded gun during a domestic dispute agreed to drop his lawsuit against the West Virginia city he worked in after reaching a settlement, his lawyers said on Monday.
Stephen Mader arrived at the home in Weirton on May 6, 2016, to find Ronald Williams distraught and wanting to commit “suicide by cop,” according to his lawsuit. Williams pleaded with Mader to shoot him.
Mader said Williams did not appear to be a threat and he tried to calm him. Two other officers arrived and one shot and killed Williams, whose gun turned out not to be loaded.
Mader was fired soon after in what he said was “a flawed effort to buttress the other officer’s use of deadly force,” according to the wrongful termination lawsuit he filed last year against Weirton in West Virginia federal court.
Weirton officials defended Mader’s firing at the time. They said Mader had worsened the situation by cursing at Williams and in two other incidents wrongly searched a vehicle without a warrant and contaminated a crime scene.
Mader, 27, agreed to drop the lawsuit after reaching the settlement with the city, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV), which helped file the lawsuit, said. Weirton agreed to pay Mader $175,000.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy to put this chapter of my life to bed,” Mader said in a statement. He grew up in the small city of some 20,000 residents, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Pittsburgh.
Weirton’s city manager, Travis Blosser, did not respond to a request for comment.
The ACLU-WV’s executive director, Joseph Cohen, said in a statement that Mader’s firing was “yet another incident exposing the toxic culture that infects far too many police departments in America.”
Since his firing, Mader has found work as a truck driver, the ACLU-WV said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Ian Simpson)