After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.
Immediately, the training he 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.
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.
Mader was responding to a 911 call from Williams’s girlfriend. In that call, she told police that Williams was threatening to kill himself, not anyone else.
What Mader did upon arriving at the scene is a hell of a lot braver course of action than simply opening fire when the suspect doesn’t immediately disarm. What Mader did is in fact exactly what we want cops to do when someone is in crisis. It’s also precisely what law enforcement officers say they do on a daily basis — put themselves at risk in order to save lives. Mader should have been given a medal. Unfortunately, two more cops then showed up, and quickly shot Williams dead.
I wish I could say I was unsurprised by this turn of events.