A former West Virginia police officer who says he was fired for not shooting a suspect in 2016 will get a $175,000 settlement from his former department.
Channel 11 has learned that former Weirton officer Stephen Mader has reached a settlement with the city.
Mader, who is white, filed a federal lawsuit against Weirton after he claims he was fired for not shooting an African-American suspect during a domestic dispute.
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"At the end of the day, I’m happy to put this chapter of my life to bed,” Mader said. “The events leading to my termination were unjustified and I'm pleased a joint resolution has been met.
“My hope is that no other person on either end of a police call has to go through this again," said Mader, who still lives in Weirton with his family but now drives trucks for a living.
Mader had been with the Weirton Police Department less than a year when he was called to a domestic dispute in May 2016. He encountered Ronald R.J. Williams of McKees Rocks next to a car outside the home. Williams had allegedly gotten into an argument with his ex-girlfriend.
Mader said Williams was holding a gun and urging Mader to shoot him. Mader did not fire, and said he attempted to deescalate the situation. Another officer who arrived on scene seconds later opened fire, killing Williams.
Investigators later learned that Williams’ gun was not loaded.
Mader was placed on probation after the chief accused him of putting officers at risk because he didn't shoot. Mader was later fired. The city claimed he was fired for other incidents, but Mader believes he was terminated because he didn't shoot the suspect.
Mader is represented by Pittsburgh attorneys Tim O'Brien and Maggie Coleman and the West Virginia ACLU.
"We are pleased that Mr. Mader's case has been successfully resolved, but this should never have happened,” O’Brien said. “No police officer should ever lose their job, or have their name dragged through the mud for choosing to talk to, rather than shoot, a fellow citizen.
“Mr. Mader is a Marine and Afghanistan war veteran who served his country and should have been praised not punished. Simply put, no police officer should ever feel forced to take a life unnecessarily to save his career.”
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