Officials in the city of Weirton in West Virginia's northern panhandle publicly commented Wednesday about a fatal shooting – and the subsequent termination of one of its officers involved.
Police officials say they had never planned to comment until a Pittsburgh newspaper ran an article over the weekend which they assert looked at only one side of the issue and is factually inaccurate.
On May 6, then-officer Stephen Mader, answering a domestic disturbance call, was involved in a confrontation with Ronald D. Williams Jr. Mader said Williams had a gun but was not pointing it at him. Mader, who is white, also claimed that Williams, an African-American, seemed suicidal and that Mader was simply trying to calm him down.
Two other officers then arrived and one fatally shot Williams. Weirton police officials deemed the shooting justified, but fired Mader himself on June 6, saying he “failed to eliminate a threat” in the confrontation, according to his termination letter.
Headlines such as "Cop fired for not killing a man with an unloaded gun" filled up social media timelines across the country. But Weirton city officials refute those accusations, saying Mader's termination was the result of multiple separate incidents.
When asked for specific examples involving Mader, city manager Travis Blosser said, "Illegal searches in a vehicle, to use of profanity with citizens regarding issues of that nature. And also incidents of contaminating a crime scene of a potential homicide investigation."
Blosser stressed the city did not participate in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's article because "We take our responsibility with employee personnel files seriously" for privacy purposes and they say Mader took advantage of that.”
Police chief Rob Alexander added, "Disgruntled employee doing a one-sided story and that's all that got misplaced. His own statement contradicts his own tale to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette."
The shooting is still being investigated by the West Virginia State Police as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.
(© 2016 WTSP)