(CN) – A former Weirton, West Virginia, police officer claim in court that he was wrongly terminated after deciding not to shoot a black suspect who he says clearly wanted to commit “suicide by cop” following a domestic dispute.
In a complaint filed in the federal court in Wheeling, West Virginia, Stephen Mader says that while responding to a 911 call involving a domestic dispute in May 2016, he encountered Ronald Williams, a 21-year-old black make who was suicidal and holding a pistol.
Williams pleaded with Mader to shoot him, but the officer, a former Marine who had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, says based on his military and police experience and training, he knew the young man was a danger only to himself.
Mader says he was attempting to de-escalate the situation when two other officers arrived at the scene and one of them shot Williams in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
Mader says he after the incident he was placed on administrative leave and ultimately fired for what the department said were “apparent difficulties in critical incident reasoning.”
But Mader insists he was let go “in a flawed effort to buttress the other officer’s use of deadly force.”
Later, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Weirton City Manager Travis Blosser claimed Mader was fired not because he decided against shooting a man who was wielding a gun but because of two prior incidents involving the officer.
Mader is represented by Tim O’Brien, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Representatives of the parties could not immediately be reached for comment.