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Officer Fired for Refusing to Shoot a Man Given $175,000 Settlement
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Stephen Mader. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Summary: A fired cop who refused to shoot a man won $175,000 in his wrongful termination lawsuit against his former police department.

A West Virginia police officer fired for refusing to shoot a man has been awarded $175,000 in a wrongful termination lawsuit. According to CBS News, the American Civil Liberties Union of his state announced the settlement on Monday.


Police officer, Stephen Mader, said that he had tried to reason with suspect R.J. Williams, 23, of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. Williams was holding a gun but Mader refused to shoot him.

In the lawsuit, Mader said that Williams was attempting “suicide by cop” and that his gun was unloaded. The officer said he was fired for not shooting Williams, and he felt that the termination was not justified.

Mader said that he was pleased with the settlement and that he was “happy to put this chapter of my life to bed. My hope is that no other person on either end of a police call has to go through this again.”

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On Monday, a spokesman from Weirton City said that Mader’s firing was justified. They said that he was let go for conduct unbecoming of an officer on three separate incidents and that the decision was made because of the city’s insurance carrier.

“We still feel we made the correct decision,” the spokesman said to CBS News. “We don’t regret that decision. We feel we made the correct decision for the community.”

In Mader’s lawsuit, he said he was fired for the Williams incident. He said that the state constitution prohibits police officers from using deadly force unless the officer thinks he is being threatened. Mader said that in the Williams case he would not have done anything differently and acted lawfully.

Mader said that he had responded to a call from Williams’ girlfriend that Williams was threatening to hurt himself. Mader said that Williams appeared upset but not aggressive or violent.

In the lawsuit, Mader said that he told Williams to drop his weapon, but Williams stated, “I can’t do that. Just shoot me.” Two other officers later arrived, and Williams raised his gun and was shot in the head by another cop. An investigation found that the second officer was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Mader’s attorney, Timothy O’Brien said that Mader “should have been praised, not punished.” His case came at a time when police brutality has been heavily questioned, especially when the officer is white and the person shot is African-American, like in this instance.

The Associated Press reviewed Mader’s file, which stated that he was a “clear and present danger” because of his behavior in a few past occasions. For instance, in March 2016, Mader was given a verbal warning for opening a car door without a search warrant so that he could yell at the car owner’s wife and give the car owner a ticket. In April 2016, he was reprimanded for not filing a police report or collecting evidence when he responded to the death of a woman, who may have been murdered. Police Chief Rob Alexander said that Mader’s mishandling of the death was “unacceptable.”

What do you think of this case? Let us know in the comments below.


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