As a follow up to yesterday’s story about the West Virginia Police Officer who was allegedly fired for not shooting a suspect, TTAG reader ‘sota’ points out that the Weirton PD responded to the story in an statement yesterday. Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander described Hammill’s Post-Gazette article as “factually inaccurate”, denied that former officer Stephen Mader’s termination had anything to do with the incident involving Robert J. Williams, and went on to call Mader a “disgruntled employee”.
“(Mader is a) disgruntled employee doing a one-sided story, and that’s how that all got misplaced. His own statement contradicts his own tale to the Pittsburgh [P]ost [G]azette,” said police chief Rob Alexander.
They add[ed that] the termination was not about Mader not shooting R.J. Williams.
“He escalated that situation rather than deescalating it based on his own statements with that individual on that night,” said [Weirton City Manager Travis] Blosser.
The city officials also disputed the description from Sean Hammill’s recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the incident. Hammill wrote that Williams had been shot “in the back of the head just behind his right ear, killing him.” Blosser, however, said that this was inaccurate:
“He was shot in the right temporal lobe,” Blosser said.”When you start running news stories that he was shot in the back of the head, you perpetrate an argument among people that isn’t factually accurate, and to share the facts: he was shot in the right temporal lobe. That was based on the medical examiners report and a press conference that the county prosecutor had as well.”
I am a Juris Doctor, not a medical doctor, so I’d invite healthcare professionals to assist in defining that language in the comments below, but I looked on that standard repository of all factual knowledge, Wikipedia, for information about the temporal lobe. The text contained a lot of medical terminology that I didn’t understand, but they did have a handy animation that made it look like one could have been shot “in the back of the head, behind the ear” and have the round land in the “temporal lobe”.
Or, I suppose, he might have been shot from a different angle and have the round end up there as well. I don’t know; that is beyond my area of professional expertise.
On the other hand, I do have some knowledge of the art of rhetoric and persuasion, and this smells to me like the Weirton PD is trying to get control of the story because shooting someone “in the back of the head…behind the ear” sounds a heck of a lot worse from a PR-management perspective than shooting someone in the ‘temporal lobe’, even though both descriptions might be completely accurate. (Especially when you have civil liberties activists and BLM types interested in the story because the person shot was black and all of the officers at the scene were white.)
It’s kind of like when people say Hillary “stumbled” at the 9/11 ceremony last weekend instead of “dropped like a 50 lbs sack of cement”.
Regarding the “shot in the temporal lobe” vs. “in the back of the head, behind the ear” question, any clarifications concerning the geography of the brain from folks in the healthcare professions would be most appreciated.