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A domestic dispute call ended up costing Weirton, West Virginia police officer Stephen Mader his job, because he failed to shoot a suspect on the scene, believing instead that he could de-escalate the situation.

The story began in May when then-Officer Mader had been summoned to the home of Bethany Gilmer, the former girlfriend of Ronald D. “R.J.” Williams II. Williams and Gilmer had a child together (the first baby born in 2016 at the Trinity Medical Center in Steubenville, Ohio, as a matter of fact.) Unfortunately, the couple soon started fighting over custody and other personal issues; Williams moved to his mother’s house in Pittsburgh.

Williams apparently visited Gilmer’s home in May, and at some point afterward Gilmer called 911, advising them that Williams “was holding a knife to his throat and threatening to harm himself. When she told him she called 911 and police were coming, she said Mr. Williams told her he was going to get his handgun from his car and make police shoot him.”

Ronald D.

When Mader arrived, responding to the call in the early morning hours of May 6, he found himself confronting an armed man. As it happened, the 25-year-old Mader is a four-year Marine Corps veteran, having served as an infantry mortarman and IDD (Improvised Explosive Device Detector Dog) handler in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, who after returning to the States sought a role in Law Enforcement and hired as an officer by the Weirton P.D. in August 2015. Based on his prior experience in the Marines, Mader concluded that he could talk Williams down.

As Sean Hammill reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

[T]he training [Mader] had undergone as a Marine to look at “the whole person” in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

“I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man’s right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

The man was Ronald D. “R.J.” Williams Jr., 23, of Pittsburgh…. Mr. Mader, who was standing behind Mr. Williams’ car parked on the street, said he then “began to use my calm voice.”

“I told him, ‘Put down the gun,’ and he’s like, ‘Just shoot me.’ And I told him, ‘I’m not going to shoot you brother.’ Then he starts flicking his wrist to get me to react to it.

“I thought I was going to be able to talk to him and deescalate it. I knew it was a suicide-by-cop” situation.

But just then, two other Weirton officers arrived on the scene, Mr. Williams walked toward them waving his gun — later found to be unloaded — between them and Mr. Mader, and one of them shot Mr. Williams in the back of the head just behind his right ear, killing him.

Shortly afterward, Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander advised Mader: “We’re putting you on administrative leave and we’re going to do an investigation to see if you are going to be an officer here. You put two other officers in danger.”

On June 7, Mader received a hand-delivered letter advising him that he had been terminated because my not shooting Williams he had “failed to eliminate a threat”. Mader was still a probationary employee in an ‘at-will’ state, and had little legal recourse to fight the termination.

Around the same time, the WPD announced that their own investigation had concluded that the other officers’ shooting of Williams had been justified given what was known to them. Mader agrees with that decision as well: “They did not have the information I did…. All they know is [Mr. Williams] is waving a gun at them. It’s a shame it happened the way it did, but, I don’t think they did anything wrong.”

This is a very unfortunate case all-around. It sounds as though Mader was trying to do his job to the highest level of his own ability, even at considerable personal risk, something that we surely want of all our law enforcement officers. It’s a truism that in life it is important to have a plan to kill everyone you meet — but also to have one to let them walk away. In this case, Mader chose to let the man walk, perhaps rightly so given what he saw. It sounds like he believed that Williams wasn’t going to harm anyone but himself. In doing so, however, he apparently allowed Williams to charge a couple of brother officers with a firearm.

Mader doesn’t seem to have any regrets about the issue.

At the same time, if I were one of the other officers and saw Mader let an armed man charge me without interfering…well, let’s just say that we Humans are not as cooly rational as we like to pretend. The vision of an man rushing you with a firearm, hell-bent on suicide-by-cop one way or another because your comrade let him go, probably stays with you for quite a while. That’s not exactly a trust-building moment.

I am also left with the uncomfortable feeling that the spate of news stories accompanying this are trying to make this story fit a narrative. The completely useless comment by the Post-Gazette reporter that Mader’s gun was unloaded is just the tip of the iceberg. There was no way for either Mader nor his brother officers to possibly know that, and as the late Col. Cooper once taught, all guns have a way of always being loaded when one least expects it. To add an extra layer of narrative complication, Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King penned an article for the New York Daily News in which he veritably lionized Mader.

As you may have guessed, Mader and the two other Weirton PD Officers are white; Williams was black.

For that reason alone, we haven’t seen the last of this case.


[Hat tip: Ed Krayewski,]

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  1. I don’t get it. The suspect was walking toward the newly arrived police, not “charging”. Did the first cop on the scene shout a warning to either the new cops, or the suspect? Did the first cop just let things play out? Are police justified in shooting a person standing with a gun pointed at the ground? Was the first cop expected to simply shoot someone with a gun who was not threatening? Is just any person with a gun considered a justified threat? I hope we have not heard the last of this one.

    • I’m okay with Mader not shooting the suspect initially. Based on the fact that Williams was not pointing the gun at him or making any overt aggressive movements toward him, I can see how Mader could believe that Williams did not pose an imminent danger to him. (I also think he may have been justified in using deadly force when Williams began flicking his wrist if this caused his handgun to point at Mader.) However, I believe once Williams began walking toward the officers while waving his gun Mader could no longer assume that Williams posed no danger. Accordingly, Mader then had a duty to protect his fellow officers by shooting Williams. As for Shaun King trying to make this a BLM racial issue, he’s full of s**t.Good shooting regardless of race.

      • Nativeson – I’m pretty much in agreement with what you wrote. Except the part about Shaun in the NY Post making this a racial matter. I read the entire article, it seemed to me he was just complaining about bad cops in general. However, I would take issue with the idea just because the police lose a lawsuit means they were wrong, which he strongly implied. Final thought, it was great Mader didn’t shoot Williams, but crazy people do crazy things. He could have pointed and killed Mader in a split second just as well and we would be reading a very different story.

      • The government employees were armed and pointing weapons at the citizen. The citizen had every right to be armed and point weapons back at the government employees. How do you shoot someone who is “charging” you in the back of the head? This was a bad shoot and the cop who fired should spend the rest of his life in prison.

        • The quoted article said he was walking, not charging… that word came from TTAG’s portion of the article.

          Regardless, when the other 2 cops showed up, he began walking towards them (presumably away from the other cop), and began waving his gun back and forth between the 2 cops he was walking towards and the one cop he was walking away from.

          Even if they were at angles with each other, when he swung to the left to aim at one cop, the other two would have a good line of sight for a behind the ear shot.

    • Todays cops ROE are written for the lowest common denominator [low end IQ and/or physically challenged(women)] which translates into shooting the perp whenever your special snowflake feels in danger.

      The LEO union can’t abide having “show offs” like Mader using his God given ability to properly assess the situation and making the other idiot cops look bad. In a union everybody is ordered to be equally bad.

    • This happened in my area. When the two other officers showed up, he pointed the gun at them and started walking towards them. That’s why they shot.

  2. Although other officers may have been right to shoot him based on their perspective of the situation it is wrong to assume he shouldn’t have shot him based on his perspective of it.

    I once read an article saying that Military people tend to have more restrictive ROEs than Police officers do. This would certainly be indicative of that, as well as someone who knew how to control what themselves and try to bring the situation under control. Running into a situation you have little understanding of is a good way to get painted into a corner fast.

    I hope he gets a soft landing, it sounds like the department wasn’t going to say that he was right and cover their asses.

    • “Running into a situation you have little understanding of is a good way to get painted into a corner fast.”
      In reality, it’s mostly just moronic (in any situation). “Fools rush in.” But police usually get away with it, since they typically far outnumber and far far far outgun whatever the reason for the call.

      • Investigation can’t happen until the scene is made safe, and considering how little information the dispatcher usually has to give you before you arrive, you’re probably not going to have a good understanding of the whole situation until you start looking around and asking questions to fill in the gaps in the radio traffic. Fools or not, cops are usually supposed to rush in by default, not wait until everything is done to pick up the pieces- unless you’re happy with the Orlando nightclub response? I know I’m not.

        Despite that, I don’t think this guy should have lost his job unless there’s some other problems that haven’t been reported, which during FTO is not unusual.

    • I can see that the department could feel that it had to either fire Mader for not shooting or prosecute the other cop for murder. Making the choice obvious.

    • De-escalate first.
      I believe that is what officers are suppose to do to avoid a much worse situation, Right?
      Shooting first and asking questions later is the attitude of a cowboy in those old western movies, not on the Force.
      Getting placed in danger comes with the Job and it is well communicated in training.
      How to De-escalate is also communicated in order to avoid lose of life by the suspect or the officer.
      In this case the officer was doing the right thing and now is paying a high price.
      The other officers should have followed officer Mader lead since he was first on the scene.
      Police officers are peace officers as well as law enforcers.
      Please do all you can to keep the peace first, then enforce if necessary.
      Not the other way around.
      A life is lost, a family in pain, a career ended, and all this could have been avoided.
      Just my two cents. Luke 6:31

  3. What a dunce. You cannot talk down a crazed individual with a firearm. In the end the shootee got what he wanted, death by cop, and West Virginia has one less spineless wanna-be Hollywood esque negotiater on its rolls. The Marine Corps has wused out in recent years.

    • Joe – I take it you have vast experience as a police officer and during all of that, you never saw an officer talk down an armed individual. Not only have I seen it, I’ve done it on more that one occasion while wearing a badge. I don’t blame the cops who arrived later and elected to shoot; the shooting was justified from their perspective and under the law. As for firing the officer, I certainly hope that young man finds another job with a police department which is looking for officers who can think quickly and are cool in the face of imminent mortal danger. That young man has “the right stuff” to be a great cop.

      • Thanks Mike, that’s what it means to ‘serve and protect’.

        Back when my family did the job, they all knew that the cop’s role was to defuse the situation, and killing the perp, no matter how much they needed killing, was for the courts. Unless you had to, then nobody second guessed you much.

        I’m completely fine with the killing of Michael Brown, no viable options and he was a violent piece of trash. Shooting of James Boyd was disgusting and extralegal, and those coppers should hang from the highest yardarm.

        • “Shooting of James Boyd was disgusting and extralegal, and those coppers should hang from the highest yardarm.”

          Presuming everyone knows what a yardarm is.

          (Yardarm: On a sailing ship, the horizontal timbers or spars mounted on the masts, from which the square sails are hung.)

          • Sam I Am – A yardarm? After reading some of these responses, I’m beginning to wonder if some of these guys know what a ship is.

        • Not before the Chief. Frankly the more I think about this, the more it looks like the real slight was a new guy not committing violence to prove his loyalty to the group. I get the impression he’d be getting paid vacation and a lot of free beer at the pub by his comrades if he’d blown the guy’s head off immediately (it’d be interesting to see how the two officers on paid leave are getting along to see how right I am in my assumption). Gangster shit.

        • Sam I Am, I do (admittedly naively) assume people are familiar with the phrase, if they’ve made it past 4th grade, but I realize, things were different in the ’70s. You had to actually learn something – other than how evil the white folks were conquering the natives and what not…

          barnbwt, Yes, that’s about the reality of it all. I’ve had family and friends in LE long enough to know that the fact is, that if you aren’t on the team, really bad things can happen to you. And that makes normally “good” people commit very questionable acts because they need the paycheck and the pension.

          • Haven’t heard the phrase ‘yardarm’ in about15yrs, so I thought some here might be curious. Yep, back in the day education was about knowledge, not politics. I keep waiting for the social justice school of math or physics (and such).

        • 16V – Thank you for the kind words. If you go to the link where the Weirton officials refute the “facts” in the Pittsburgh news article, Mader was dismissed for a series of what I used to call “DFRM’s” and I think you can figure out what that means. Even in aggregate I don’t think they amounted to sufficient grounds to terminate him. Every rookie cop makes mistakes and even experienced officers aren’t immune to them. BTW, the officers involved in the James Boyd shooting are going to be tried and held accountable for their actions.

        • I suspect there are a several different things in play with this incident that may bear consideration.

          First, if a new officer, who happens to have an unusually good grasp of reading people and situations, is the first on the scene and handles the situation like Mr. Mader did, a great deal of what happens next will depend not only on what the next officers on the scene see, but also on how much faith they put in the first “rookie” officer’s judgment of the scene (and his skills). If the 2 experienced cops who show up later, do not know Mader well, or do not yet trust his judgment enough (remember he IS still a rookie) to let him decide how to handle the situation, then they will likely ignore how he wants to handle it and trust their own judgment based on what they see before them. If they had known Mader to be a 5-year veteran cop with a good reputation for dealing with mental cases, it would probably have gone down very differently.
          Second, most LEOs rarely, if ever, have to fire their weapons or face down perps with drawn guns. It is entirely possible, even likely, that Mader had more experience facing that type of “combat” danger, and he may have known (or at least believed) that he had the ability to react quickly enough to handle it safely, if the perp suddenly decided to shoot. Marines learn early on in combat, that the mere fact someone shoots at you (which happens a lot) doesn’t mean he is going to hit you, while most LEOs are unlikely to think like that, and have usually even been trained not to. If the 2 cops who arrived later lacked that sort of combat experience (likely, unless they were also combat veterans) or had less confidence in their own ability to react effectively if the perp decided to fire at them, then this, coupled with their distrust of Mader’s judgment, would increase the probability of their responding exactly as they did. This is not to say they were in the wrong. Given the circumstances as I hypothesize them above, it makes perfectly good sense, and is quite justifiable, for them to defensively shoot a man who refuses to drop his gun, or worse yet, points it at them. Given their circumstances, I think theirs was a “righteous” shooting, from a legal perspective (although it may mean little from a PR perspective).
          Third, once the event has unfolded as it did, the department is likely to be in a political bind if they exonerate the 2 experienced cops on the scene for a fatal shooting, yet do nothing to the rookie cop who didn’t shoot. If, as is often the case, there had been other, even minor issues, during Mader’s training period prior to this incident, or if the other officers had any “political” clout, it would make the decision to fire him even easier. Further, imagine the morale effect on the department, had they kept Mader on the force; they’d have a situation where a rookie behaved better under stress/danger than 2 more experienced officers, and someone was killed unnecessarily because of it. Thjat’s not something the “powers that be” would want to have to admit, and keeping Mader on the force would almost guarantee they’d have to.

        • Mike, anytime. I have no problem with good cops, who make mistakes in a fraction of a second. I always have questions when a coupla latecomers to the scene don’t take a few seconds to ascertain a situation that seems to be contained. (Yes, I know what DFRM means…)

          With any luck there will be some sort of thorough investigation, maybe the new arrivals saw something the rookie didn’t. But when dealing with someone who wants to SBC, they don’t have the nuts to shoot themselves, the cop that shows up? Cop buddy of mine (Marine) has stopped two of them. By holstering his weapon and talking the guy down.

          • 16V – I wish I could say I had the ‘nads to say that in both of the situations which immediately came to mind I holstered: Instead I drew down, backed up, and put mouth/brain in gear before the trigger finger. In one, the fellow was angry at the world in general, a neighbor in particular, and didn’t put his weapon down until I thumbed the hammer back and told him we should talk about this before I put a bullet squarely between his eyes. The other one was what I thought was a stranded motorist on the D.C Beltway on Christmas Day. I stopped thinking I was going to assist a “stranded motorist” and ended up confronting a man who grabbed a weapon and advanced on me. I did a backward run that would have done credit to the best of NFL defensive backs and started talking faster than a Maryland tobacco auctioneer back in the old days as I drew my service revolver and put it alongside my leg. It took summoning our department’s Catholic chaplain (who was between Christmas sermons and was wearing his priestly garb with bedroom slippers. bless his dedicated soul) before we got him settled down. As it turned out, he had just made a Yuletide visit to his estranged wife and their children, which made him depressed and very angry at the situation. After we got him calmed down and rational, I took him to where he was staying with his brother-in-law – who turned out to be a high school friend of mine who was one of our department dispatchers!

        • Mike, my buddy is a good man, but I really think they scooped it all out when they opened the jar – the guy is lacking in some judgement skills, or he really believes all they programmed him with in the most ideal sense.

          As long as you can say with a straight face that you did whatever you could to protect the people you serve, and make a valid case for it, I’m ok with that. The bad shoots are easy to spot, the shoulda/coulda/wouldas are a bit more difficult to suss, but reasonable folks can generally figure it out.

          The pricks that every squad has, that everybody decent leaves to be pricks, are a whole different story.

          • 16V – Everybody has heard of the “Blue Wall of Silence” and I’m certainly not going to deny that it exists. Human beings who work in groups become “tribal” and the group ethos is to protect the members of the tribe. Those who do not are shunned, not a good situation to be in when you’re in police work and there are occasions when you depend on a back-up to save your butt. Yes, there are some less than sterling individuals wearing a badge which the tribe protects when they shouldn’t. It’s up to the agency to set clear guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not, and that lying to protect another member of the tribe is one of the things which is not and will get you dismissed.

            • I may not understand you completely, but it seems you are reporting that the alleged few bad actors intimidate the larger tribe into ignoring, then accepting, then endorsing, then protecting, then promoting criminal or near-criminal behavior of the few bad actors. If the tribe refuses to cast-out renegades, how can the agency set and enforce higher standards?

              • Sam – Similar to the military, police work has its own tribal culture. It has long been a tenet of both cultures, a tribal “norm” if you will, that you don’t “rat out” a fellow member of the tribe lest you disturb the cohesion of the group. Is it wrong to ignore wrong, as if to condone it? Of course it is. Until and unless it becomes acceptable to the tribe to condemn misconduct and cast out the malfeasors, we will continue to have incidents where cops will cover for other cops, either via the “blue wall of silence” or by out and out falsehoods. Some of this is occasioned by the “us versus them” mentality that far too many cops adopt when they see what they perceive as the injustices in the criminal justice system and they feel that makes “street justice” acceptable for any justice at all to be done. Of course, in the long run such thinking is counter-productive because it alienates the very people the cops are paid to protect and further widens the gulf often exploited by cop-haters and race-baiters. Impressing upon your officers that fact and dealing harshly with those officers who violate clear-cut standards is the only way to break the cycle.

              • My personal experience with the military was to court martial the egregious. (Sadly, in the last 20yrs, the worst offenders have been the growth of corrupt officers who received the blind eye). Tribes get what they earn. To allow the bad actors to thrive, then complain loudly that citizens do not trust the police is just laughable. My take is like being in the sandbox (or “the Arizona”): you can’t really tell the good guys from the bad. Be polite to everyone you meet, but have a plan to kill them.

    • You won’t get the full picture but I suggest you read Left of Bang it will put this into some perspective.

    • And then there’s Chris Dorner.
      Was he a total moonbat who got homicidally upset because he lied and they fired him for lying?
      Or was he mad as Hell because they fired him for being the only honest cop in Los Angeles County?

      I’m leaning towards the latter, with a sprinkling of “once you’ve killed a cop, the rest are free” causing him to not care about future target selection after his first engagement.

  4. Mader is better off. He’ll live life with a cleaner conscience not ‘following orders’ as cop.

  5. No innocents died from this, the suspect didn’t even get away. Even if it was 100% a should shoot, there was nothing to be a PR disaster and his thinking was not malicious. He should have been reprimanded and retrained, not fired (assuming they didn’t have some other reason to fire him and this wasn’t just the excuse. Knowing unions and especially police unions it’s very possible)

    • No innocents died from this

      Except Williams. Yes, Williams committed some offenses, none of which have death penalty specifications.

      Judge Dredd is supposed to be a dystopian comic book, not an instruction manual.

      • I wouldn’t say that; weren’t the judges hooked up to cyanide that’d kill them if they failed justice, or some BS? You’d have a dead guy and two cops foamin’ at the mouth here in that case.

        The young cop simply made the mistake of being less aggressive & gung ho than his older superior officers giving backup. He failed to prove his loyalty to the group (yes, that’s a gang reference, apparently seconded enthusiastically by the captain, I mean Chief)

      • It’s hard for me to say that a man charging two people – uniforms or not – who hadn’t actually done anything to him yet while waving a firearm is completely “innocent”, regardless of motive. In the BEST case scenario here, Williams didn’t want to hurt the cops, he just wanted to scare them into shooting him. After he failed with Mader, he tried again with the new ones, who didn’t know what had been going on with Mader.

        The officer(s) who brought Williams down now have to spend the rest of their lives knowing they killed this guy. Maybe that’s fine with them, and they’ll live long happy lives confident that they did the right thing. Maybe it’ll haunt them for the rest of their lives, resulting in years of depression, anxiety, therapy, and dealing with a broken family. Maybe it’ll be somewhere in the middle.

        Any of those are possible results, based on what I’ve heard about how peoples’ lives go forward post-shooting — even post ‘good shoot’. In any event, Williams never had a right to deliver those cops any of those potential outcomes.

  6. “Mr. Williams walked toward them…and one of them shot Mr. Williams in the back of the head just behind his right ear…”
    I’m glad a regular citizen doesn’t have to explain to a jury how this happened.

    Mostly what I read here is Mader is a good guy..
    I can see the headline now.
    “Mader: Fired by Local PD, Wins Sheriffs Election – Local Police Chief Baffled”

    • Of course when you purposely omit “waving his gun between them and Mr. Mader” (which would imply he was turning back and forth), it’s easy to question how to shoot someone in the back of the head when they’re walking towards you.

  7. Lesson learned — cops should shoot first and ask questions later. If they shoot, they’ll be cleared. If they hold fire, they’ll be fired.

    Got it.

    Does Weirton have a similar rule for strangulation?

    • You’ll never convince certain people here of the terrible, lawless, authoritarian precedent acceptance of this type of policing (when in doubt, shoot) leads to, but I appreciate the effort.

  8. Glad that wasn’t my agency. I got a commendation for talking a guy down while he was holding a shotgun.
    Fat lotta good it did though, he offed himself a year later in a different manner.

    • Yeh. I don’t think he should have been fired. If he felt he could talk him down initially that’s preferable to shooting him.

      On the other hand I don’t have an issue with the second group of officers shooting him. Regardless of anything else, If you point a firearm at me I’m going to shoot you, that’s just all there is to it.

      But the situation evolved. I don’t think he should have been terminated for trying to avoid using lethal force.

  9. Let’s review: when forced to choose do you value the lives of two police officers or a gun-wielding (he could have put it down any time but didn’t) DV perp? Mader got what he deserved for valuing a DV perp over his partners. this ain’t the battlefield and the perps aren’t innocents. DV is the number one way cops die. You don’t want to die, put the gun down and talk it out with the cops.

    • I don’t know what “DV” means, but the “perp” is a citizen, too. He’s clearly suffering from mental distress, his life is valuable, he deserves due process and even he is one of the citizens who the police are sworn to protect. Yes, his life is more valuable than the cops’ because putting your life at risk to serve the community is part of the burden you take on when you put on the badge. If you don’t like risking your life, take off the badge and become an accountant.

      • DV means Domestic Violence. DV calls are known to be more dangerous than normal because people having relationship issues bad enough for police to get involved are often very emotional and irrational. It’s not unheard of for someone to be arrested for a DV assault, and then for the other half, sometimes still bleeding from the beating that prompted the 911 call in the first place, to attack the officers for taking away the one person in the world who might love them.

        I posted this in a comment a few days ago, but I’ll leave it here too- the priorities of life in my training are as follows. Personally, I happen to agree with it.


        • It’s now possible to commit Domestic Violence against yourself?

          Or, “if you don’t undump me, I’ll injure/kill myself” is Domestic Violence because it’s coercion?

        • This wasn’t a domestic violence call. This was a mental health call. Gilmer called 911, advising them that Williams “was holding a knife to his throat and threatening to harm himself.

          The only person Williams had represented a danger to was himself. Gilmer called 911 to get help for Williams. Those second two cops who showed up with their big swinging dicks escalated the situation, made it worse, forced a confrontation, and the outcome was exactly what Gilmer had hoped to prevent by calling police for help.

          It’s pretty likely Williams would be alive today if the police had simply not shown up, and nobody else would be hurt. Williams had opportunity after opportunity to harm others throughout the situation and never did.

          I will never, ever call the police to get “assistance” for an emotionally distressed, suicidal family member because of this deplorable “shoot first” attitude.

        • Officers belong at the bottom of the list. That is why we pay them the bloated salaries, give them the platinum benefits and let them retire after 20 years. Better 1000 cops die than one citizen or “suspect” as you call them be harmed in the least.

        • cloudbuster:

          “The only person Williams had represented a danger to was himself. Gilmer called 911 to get help for Williams. Those second two cops who showed up with their big swinging dicks escalated the situation, made it worse, forced a confrontation, and the outcome was exactly what Gilmer had hoped to prevent by calling police for help.”

          Comment of the year right there.

          Context matters.

          Every case is different. Totality of circumstances. Objective Reasonableness. Etc. Always a complicated question and not to take it lightly, but we can make a few general comments about this incident that merit serious consideration.

          In THIS case, it was not a DV call per se; it was a ‘threatening suicide’ call.

          I’ve mentioned this before: loss of ‘cover-contact’ in law enforcement is undermining both LE effectiveness AND public trust. This shooting happened at least in part due to the break-down of ‘cover-contact principle’ in police work.

          Mader was the ‘contact officer.’ He’d been there the longest and had the best understanding of the dynamics of the situation. The other cops, back-up, were there for “cover.”

          Recognizing that this can break down if the ‘cover’ cops are clearly threatened, we have to ask if that ACTUALLY happened in this case. But, the larger point remains regardless…too many contemporary cops do NOT operate in a “one and only one officer on the scene, usually determined by circumstance not rank or experience, is in charge at any one time.”

          There have been some serious breakdowns in police doctrines in the last 10-15 years…both in terms of operational doctrine AND training doctrine.

          And with those breakdowns have also come serious breakdowns in public trust. It’s gotten to the point where even when a cop does the right thing, he’s STILL criticized into oblivion.

          It’s a no-win Catch-22. I’m wondering if that was by design on the part of the agitators that fuel hatred even in the ‘good’ cases (*): undermine public trust in LE…SJW destruction of yet another institution.

          (*) I’m always for asking the questions, even in so-called “good shoot” cases. Transparency would go a long way right now, yet we see so many agencies doubling down on hiding facts in internal investigations, etc.

        • “Officers belong at the bottom of the list.”

          You’re kidding, right? You mean that an officer doesn’t even need to carry a gun, because if someone is shooting at him he can’t shoot back? I suppose that would decrease pension costs dramatically, plus we could sell off all LE firearms and ranges, etc, but I’m not thinking it would be a good idea, overall.

    • First, Officer Mader understood that the offender was trying to get someone to shoot him, suicide by cop. If the guy had intentions to shoot a police officer, he would would have shot at Mader as soon as Mader confronted him. BUT Mader tried to talk the offender into giving up. It probably would have worked until the 2 shoot first, ask later cops arrived. Not the first time this has happened. The 2 backup PO’s should have just waited until the offender shot at Mader. Mader had connected with the offender and the backup officers just escalated the situation. These situations happen quite a bit. The head of the department had no logical or legal right to fire Mader. In fact the backup officers should have been disciplined for their actions and for escalating the situation.

        • Unless your perp goes into a nightclub and begins killing people wholesale. In that event, sit down outside and have a donut, wait 3 hours for SWAT to take care of it, and help carry out all the bodies while congratulating yourself for a job well done. Then go home safe, the #1 goal.

          • Larry – Having been a negotiator in a large police department, I have been involved in numerous barricade/hostage situations. For years it has been police policy to isolate and contain the scene, then deploy SWAT and negotiator teams to resolve the situation, preferably with the negotiator and if that doesn’t work, the SWAT officers. However, an active shooter situation is an entirely different paradigm. It has been shown conclusively that an IMMEDIATE confrontation with the shooter saves lives in the long run, even if officers may mistakenly harm the innocent in the confusion. I guess the Daytona cops hadn’t gotten that memo.

            • Actually, the first cops responding treated the situation as “active shooter”. It was when someone declared “barricaded suspect” (even though he was still shooting) that the first cops backed-off. Then the SWAT couldn’t penetrate a wall to gain entry.

    • If he had not been convicted in a court of law, then yes, he was innocent. But if we are going to let cops be judge, jury and executioner then citizens get to play that same game with cops.

  10. You know how people think policy violations are actually crimes, and act like MLK just got hosed whenever one is caught on tape? Yeah, policy is to shoot the guy. ROE in the ME is more rigid because of language and cultural differences. Here, you can usually count on a person who is saying “shoot me” while you are pointing a gun at him actually being suicidal.

    • The goal isn’t supposed to oblige someone who is trying to commit suicide by cop, if possible. The goal is to rescue a citizen who is a danger to himself due to mental illness. This cavalier “just shoot them” attitude makes me sick.

    • You’re seriously okay with the police having more lethal and aggressive rules of engagement than 18 year olds with machine guns and claymore mines? Though I’m sure you wish they would simply murder everyone they come across over there, or something…

    • “Here, you can usually count on a person who is saying “shoot me” while you are pointing a gun at him actually being suicidal.”

      What is our obsession with assigning ‘rational thought’ to people in irrational states?

      YOU think you can count of a person saying that to mean what he says, but it’s not NECESSARILY true.

      Not all people in the process of attempting suicide are REALLY suicidal. It could be a kind of ‘acute attack’ of feeling suicidal, but rather more a response to present circumstances.

      Cops should not oblige a person essentially claiming to want to off themselves (by themselves or by cop, or any other means) and that could be a HOST of things.

      That you think just because the guy was acting suicidal in THAT moment that he really was that disturbed or really meant he wanted his life to end is quite telling about your lack of understanding of human behavior and dynamics in these types of stressful situations.

      Questions: If he was REALLY suicidal, why did he:

      (a) Not just do it when he had the knife to this throat?

      (b) Transition from a threat of suicide (by knife) to the girlfriend to an attempt of suicide by cop with a gun in his hand?

      (c) Not ACTUALLY and OVERTLY and CLEARLY threaten the cops…like pointing the gun directly at the cop and saying (if he had time), “I’m going to shoot you!”

      NONE of this speaks to someone hell-bent on suicide. People that want to kill themselves generally succeed, especially if they have effective tools at their disposal (knives, guns, cops with guns, etc).

  11. Cop got off lucky he only suffered being fired. Had that White cop shot the negro the town would have burned, the Injustice Dept would have pushed for local murder charges and federal race pimp charges.

  12. I’m speechless at “putting two other officers in danger”.

    Sh*t like this make my blood boil.

    No, Mader did not. He assessed the situation to the best of his ability, and given the fact that he himself did not die, Officer Mader was right in not shooting the suspect.

    I believe it’s a good shoot for the latter two cops given their perspective at the moment.

    But for the PD to literally say “shoot the taxpayer no matter what just so public servants can ‘get home at night'”, it APPALS me. This is just disgusting.

  13. He was still on probation, and his cool head would call the other officer’s decision to shoot into question, unless he were discredited somehow. Politically it’s a no-brainer: throw the probie to the wolves, protect the veteran officer’s career.

    • That’s the most interesting take on it I’ve seen.

      The decision of Mader not to shoot is totally overshadowing the fact that the dead guy was shot in the back of the head. Perhaps that warrants another look?

      • Weirton officials have refuted the “shot in the back of the head” news report. According to them, the coroner’s post-mortem report states that the fatal shot struck the victim in the “right temporal lobe”.

          • CueBaller – Your response is well-taken by me – but what would most people think when they hear/see “shot in the back of the head”? That the shooter was in fact BEHIND his target and therefore not a threat to him. Perhaps it could be more accurately stated that Williams was struck in the rear SIDE of his head, which could be occasioned by his advancing toward the officers and turning his head at the instant the fatal shot was fired.

        • That’s a good take, Mike, thinking of looking at a head from the side. If so, the report was poorly written, but I sure won’t pretend that would be uncommon.

        • Agreed, Mike, but that’s part of the problem… most people don’t take the time to think AT ALL.

          Myself, I read something like the above statement, realize it sounds a little iffy (maybe worded incorrectly) and take a moment to try and figure out what they were talking about, how it might have actually happened, etc.

      • Yeah, that is an issue.

        It’s bad enough when this one story is taken on its merits. But, when we put it in the mix with a bunch of OTHER stories, some alarming patterns emerge.

        One such alarming pattern I’ve noticed in these discussions is the quickness to justify a cop shooting someone on the basis of ‘who the guy was’ or what his background was, etc….even in cases where there is no way the cop could have known that at the time of the shooting.

        One of the casualties of modern police doctrine is the death of ‘objective reasonableness’ as the standard at least in the court of public opinion. “Perp had a rap sheet, so he had it coming” has become justification, regardless of ability, opportunity and jeopardy at the moment of shooting.

        I’m reminded of the NM cops that shot the homeless guy with the knife. Again, regardless of the facts of that circumstance, I was troubled at the time the number of folks that justified the shooting on the basis of the cops being there for 2 hours without the guy ‘giving up’ like waiting is now considered a “threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

        In summary, I agree with your assessment that we have and are continuing to ‘normalize’ a lot of police behaviors that have serious negative long term consequences.

  14. Mader made a judgement call based largely on his Marine experience in Afghanistan. The cops who arrived later didn’t have his perspective. They made a different call based on their training, experience and even less information than Mader had.

    About twenty years ago where I live, a guy high on drugs carjacked a man. The victim’s sister called 911. Two police officers found the car with the jacker and victim inside. The victim began to struggle over the jacker’s handgun and a shot was fired. The police, thinking they were the targets, riddled the car. To add insult to injury, they hit only the victim, not the jacker.

    A few years before that incident, a guy in Colorado took several people hostage. One of the hostages managed to slip away and ran toward one of the sheriff’s deputies surrounding the place. The deputy shot him to death.

    • The difference here is there was no shot fired, and the situation was (by the estimation of the only cop present who knew what was happening) stable enough to not warrant lethal force. But Wingus and Dingus came roaring in to rescue the guy when they saw the perp had a gun, instead of using their brains to examine the situation & determine if the weapon was being used. This sudden interjection naturally upset the already distraught man, who then escalated to waving the piece and steadily approaching the officers who had no clue he’d already been bluffing the first officer for a period of time.

      What I think happened here, is the two shooting officers have a hell of lot more time on the force and pull than a 25yo ex-vet newbie, and they botched his collar going trigger happy & killing the guy the instant they had the opportunity to (very different from perceiving a need to) because they got exciting rushing to offer backup and didn’t clearly assess the situation before going loud. So the Chief takes this course of action, protecting two valuable officers at the expense of one new guy, and at the same time establishing precedent that the action taken by these two shooters was justified (it will likely be found to be “justifiable,” but again these are not the same) and further cement the public’s acceptance of needlessly aggressive police tactics.

  15. what i took from all this is confirmation that by and large, the problem is not with police officers, but with police departments.

  16. I’m just waiting for John “we should be shooting more people” Farnam to post an article explaining how horrible it is that this officer exercised restraint and caution in an effort to defuse a deadly situation.

  17. No happy ending here. Unless it was the cops who went home that night…I hope the fired cop gets a gig somewhere else.

    • I truly believe there are many other police departments that will hire him on the spot. A police officer who can make rational decisions in a very high stress situation and not allow himself to be drawn into tunnel vision. He put himself in danger, but still made rationale decisions. I know I could never stay in control and make the proper call if I was in the same situation. Almost shot a 12 year old that had a BB pistol. Only reason I didn’t was my partner saw it wasn’t real and pushed my gun down. If he had not pushed my gun hand down at that point, within 2 seconds I would have shot and probably killed that kid. Tunnel vision and not trying to see if it was a real gun.How many cops, when they get into a shooting situation, get instant tunnel and have almost shot another PO. More times than I could even count.

      • Retired Cop,

        “How many cops, when they get into a shooting situation, get instant tunnel and have almost shot another PO. More times than I could even count.”

        Not “almost shot”, actually shot. It happens so often that we have a quasi-technical term for it called “blue on blue”.

        I believe the basic problem is simple training. We need to train people (both law enforcement and non-law enforcement) to stop ATTACKERS rather than shooting someone who has a firearm. Some basic “shoot, no-shoot” drills would help with that.

  18. This police officer could have killed this offender without blinking an eye. Did he do the wrong thing or freeze up? I don’t believe that. He made a calculated rationale decision in the situation before him. His decision was based on the facts he was faced with. I consider him a hero for not just reacting to shooting someone who really wasn’t a threat. He assessed the situation and made his choice. A choice that if he was wrong would have cost him his life. That is the problem that affects every police department. Instead of the officer not being judged for the actions he thought were right, all the department Monday morning quartebacks deemed his actions wrong even though they were not the ones in the situation. No 2 police officers will ever make the same decision in the same exact scenario. There is no concrete correct answer how to handle any situation. No 2 people make choices based on the many different impressions they take into account.

    • Ah, another voice of reason and experience. I hope you are enjoying your retirement as much as I am. Salud!

  19. When soldiers are more measured & merciful than the peace officers. Jesus Christ.

    Sword cuts both ways, here. Officers are given more benefit of the doubt than most when they decide to use lethal force –should they not also be given it when deciding not to use lethal force? He didn’t freeze, he describes logically how his estimation of events at the scene led him to his course of action, and it wasn’t until two other (heretofore ignorant of the ongoing events) officers showed up and aggressively inserted themselves into an ongoing negotiation that the situation escalated.

    Unless of course the JOB of these ‘peace officers’ is to terminate all demonstrably threatening behavior with extreme prejudice. Which sounds quite martial, frankly. Or is this man being fired because he failed to neutralize all dogs on the scene before engaging the suspect? I noticed he was a former military dog handler, and find it interesting he also showed more restraint under pressure than was expected…or is apparently allowed. Coincidence?

    • Most police shootings are when the police see a gun and fire because of tunnel vision. That is why if there are 10-15 police officers at a scene where one police officer shoots some one, their reports all differ to what they saw. 99.9 percent of the time every police officer have different reports on what they see. Everyone of the reports are true based on the PO’s position and the fact they had tunnel vision. I give the police officer a lot of credit for him being able to keep rationale and to not shoot the offender. Most cops would have shot him because he had a gun and would have pointed it at the police. It would have been justified, but the police officer did a quick scan of everything that was being used or could have been a weapon. He observed the handgun the offender had and saw it was not loaded. He should have been promoted and not fired.

    • Always put “peace officer” in quotes, it is a lie, a grossly outdated anachronism. The pigsters never use that term to describe themselves until they screw up and want to put on a “friendly” face for the press.

  20. IMHO, it’s probable that Mr. Mader received training in the UCMC’s Combat Hunter program.

    This program has multiple facets, including tracking and other things that civvies are not privy to. However, it’s main focus is “combat profiling”. That is training a Marine to immediately identify hostiles based on behaviors known, and nearly impossible to hide, that suggest an aggressive posture. The general concept is to be able to look at a group of people in a public space such as a bazaar and identify the bad guy based on body language, the body language of others and known ques in social situations. It takes that “he seemed suspicious/the hairs on my neck raised” and turns it into “I saw X and recognized it”.

    Long story short: it works. Once you recognize clusters of behavior you can rapidly and very accurately assess who means you harm. I surmise that based on such training Mr. Mader knew this was suicide by cop because the suspect clearly meant him no harm and Mr. Mader knew that based on his behavior and could likely articulate exactly why he knew it. At that point he tried to talk him down and it cost Mr. Mader his job.

    For anyone interested in the civilian approved version of this way of looking at the world Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley covers what is approved for civilian release.

    $20 on Amazon that might just save your life… if you pay attention to the lessons. Fuck Chuck Yeager. Fuck Tactical Whatever. This is the real shit. In fact, if you CCW and know of this book but don’t read STUDY it, you’re not just doing yourself a disservice, you’re a total fucking moron.

      • On TTAG, or any real gun site, the only acceptable mention of Chuck Yeager is “Fuck Chuck Yeager”.

        I used the acceptable parlance!

      • Someone’s going to have to explain that one to me. We’re talking about General Yeager, Mr. Speed-of-Sound, pilot extraordinaire and the real protagonist of THE RIGHT STUFF?

      • Chuck Yeager credited his air-to-air successes to his 20/5 vision, essentially built-in telescopes. He would see the enemy before the enemy saw him, and maneuver his formation to a position above and behind the enemy without being seen. Once the attack began, it was normally over before the enemy knew it had begun. That accident of birth established his whole life, which was admirable, and you sound kinda confused on the subject.

        • I know well who Chuck Yeager is. My question was why strych9 was dissing him so nastily. Why would Yeager’s combat experience be germane to any discussion here?

        • I meant James Yeager. Mea culpa. Total brainfart on my part there.

          Mr. Chuck Yeager, the U2 pilot, is not who I was thinking of and surely is not someone deserving of such a comment. Not sure why I used his name when thinking of that overly tattooed “it’s a silencer!” guy. My flame should have been directed towards James Yeager of Tactical Response.

          Totally my bad. Again, Mea culpa.

        • And I screw it up again confusing him with Gary Powers.

          I really can’t wait for this exam to be over tomorrow so I can stop thinking about numbers constantly. Maybe that’s the problem. I dunno.

    • James Yeager P.S. “Left of Bang” is a great book. You will learn a lot if you are not already a deer hunter, a bounty or have repossessed cars.

  21. Tough deal. I don’t want to Monday morning QB, but it’s hard not to. Would I have pulled the trigger? Yep, I probably would have. If someone involves me in their suicide attempt, then so be it. However, I wasn’t there.

    Hope this Marine finds good employment soon.

  22. I thought the accepted meme was that police from the military are the ones to blame for making the police more brutal.

    • Thanks. I’ll ask Dan to put up an addendum (once articles are published here, I cannot edit them.)

      I note the publication timestamp was 9/13 at 5:04pm, after my post had been submitted.

  23. This is why I’m anti-cop, because on the rare occasions a good cop exists, the rest will make sure the good cop is fired, quits, or is killed.

  24. If Williams was such a threat in walking towards the two late arriving cops how did they manage to one of them shot Mr. Williams in the back of the head just behind his right ear?

    • He had been practicing that Angelina Jolie “bullet curve” thing from the Wanted movie. Or he is a gutless coward and a liar. I know which one I think is true.

    • He was walking towards them, possibly away from Mader, and waving his gun back and forth between them and Mader, which would mean he was turning back and forth as he walked. So when he’s facing Mader, he’s facing away from the cop who shot him.

  25. As an aside:

    Cop aiming at his head, or did he just miss ‘center mass’ that much?

    If the former, since when are regular cops trained to take head shots? Or was the head all that was visible? That doesn’t make sense given the scenario.

    • Haven’t seen anyone proposing that street cops accomplish anywhere near ‘marksman’ accuracy. On the ‘upside’, no bystanders were injured (unlike in places known for out-sized apples).

  26. Let me describe a training scenario to you guys. Two men, two Simunitions pistols. One of them (let’s call him the “Cop,”) has gun trained on the other. The second (let’s call him the “Suspect,”) has his gun in his hand by his side. The Cop cannot shoot until he sees the Suspect move to aim his pistol at him.

    You will find that there is roughly a 50% chance of the Suspect shooting the Cop first. Action beats reaction, even when reaction has an upper hand.

    Now, is it reasonable to expect LEO to put themselves in a coin flip life-or-death situation when faced with this dilemma? If the Cop dies, the Suspect now has nothing to lose. Are you confident that the Suspect is not going to turn to the woman and child in anger with a gun in his hand? Isn’t going to run into the street and start firing wildly a other officers?

    I appreciate that Made was trying to do the right thing, and saw himself as only putting his own life on the line. It shows courage and character. But he was not thinking about the chain of events that might follow from his selflessness.

    The person in that situation with whom I am most comfortable dying is the one who precipitated it in the first place.

  27. So you’re saying Mader has a duty to protect… other officers, but has no such duty to protect other citizens without a badge. Thanks police department, I feel much safer now. Bring on the raises!

  28. De-escalate first.
    I believe that is what officers are suppose to do to avoid a much worse situation, Right?
    Shooting first and asking questions later is the attitude of a cowboy in those old western movies, not on the Force.
    Getting placed in danger comes with the Job and it is well communicated in training.
    How to De-escalate is also communicated in order to avoid lose of life by the suspect or the officer.
    In this case the officer was doing the right thing and now is paying a high price.
    The other officers should have followed officer Mader lead since he was first on the scene.
    Police officers are peace officers as well as law enforcers.
    Please do all you can to keep the peace first, then enforce if necessary.
    Not the other way around.
    A life is lost, a family in pain, a career ended, and all this could have been avoided.
    Just my two cents. Luke 6:31

    • Surprise. Overwhelming force. Violence of Action. “Escalate until you have control of the situation”.

      Words to live by.

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