A former police officer from West Virginia won $175,000 in a wrongful termination lawsuit after he alleged he was fired for trying to de-escalate a dangerous situation with an armed suicidal man.
The saga started in May 2016 when Stephen Mader responded to a call about a suicidal man armed with a knife. According to Fox News, Mader arrived on the scene and encountered 23-year-old R.J. Williams who was armed with what turned out to be an unloaded gun.
Mader said Williams did not pose a risk of death of bodily injury to himself or others. After Mader ordered Williams to drop his unloaded gun, Williams responded, "I can't do that. Just shoot me," according to the lawsuit.
Mader called on his Marine Corps training and attempted to convince Williams to drop his gun. The former cop said that while Williams was visibly upset he did not believe the man was a danger according to The Guardian.
“He wasn’t angry,” Mader previously told the Guardian. “He wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t seem in position to want to use a gun against anybody. He never pointed it at me. I didn’t perceive him as an imminent threat.”
When Mader's backup arrived on the scene, one of them opened fire and killed Williams.
Ten days later, Mader was fired from the department. Mader filed a wrongful termination lawsuit saying that "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."
The department tried to claim he was fired for two unrelated incidents, but the court did not believe their argument. The termination letter "directly and repeatedly chastised Mader for not shooting" Williams.
Mader is no longer a police officer, but the ruling said the department could not interfere in any future attempts for him to get a job in law enforcement. Mader is now a truck driver and said he is ready to move on with his life.
At the end of the day, I’m happy to put this chapter of my life to bed.