Saturday, September 17, 2016

260.5 - Outrage of the Week: cop fired for failing to kill man

Outrage of the Week: cop fired for failing to kill man

Now for one of our frequent features. This is the Outrage of the Week.

The Outrage this week is about a case where a cop was fired after a deadly encounter with someone with a gun.

The thing is, the cop - Stephen Mader of the Weirton, West Virginia, police force - was not fired for shooting someone. He was not even fired for shooting someone who was unarmed. He was fired, stay with me here, for not shooting someone.

Mader had responded to a domestic incident call and found himself confronting a man with a gun. Mader said his training to look at "the whole person" kicked in.

He noted that the man - Ronald Williams by name - had the gun in his right hand, but his arm was hanging at his side and the gun was pointed at the ground. When Mader tried to encourage - not demand but encourage - Williams to put the gun down, Williams responded with "Just shoot me."

This is "suicide by cop," Mader realized, and he assured Williams he would not fire. Williams started flicking his wrist, trying to provoke Mader to shoot him. But Mader was sure he could deescalate the situation.

Stephen Mader
Unfortunately, at that moment two other cops arrived and Williams started waving the gun toward them. They opened fire and killed him. Williams' gun, not surprisingly, proved to be unloaded.

Neither an investigation nor Mader faulted the other cops: They saw a man waving a gun and they had neither seen nor heard what Mader had.

But while Mader did not fault the cops, that did not mean that the department could not fault him. He was fired for having "failed to remove a threat" and putting the other two cops in danger. Remember that this was after it had been determined that Williams was not armed.

This is insane. Mader acted the way we want cops to act: He sized up the situation, he stayed calm, he tried to deescalate things, he did not reach for his gun when he was not in danger, and he didn't kill somebody as his first line of defense.

And the result is, he was fired and is now studying to get a commercial truck driver's license. Meanwhile, across the country cops who do get fired for behavior so bad it can't be dismissed or ignored all too often quickly just become a cop somewhere else.

And then we wonder why people don't trust police.

It's an outrage.

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