Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Weirton City Manager Says Officer Let Go for Other Incidents, Not for Holding Fire

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Weirton City Manager Says Officer Let Go for Other Incidents, Not for Holding Fire

Article excerpt

Weirton's city manager said a police officer was fired in June not because he decided against shooting a man who was wielding a gun but because of two prior incidents involving the officer.

Officials of the West Virginia city responded to reporters' questions Tuesday after a Post-Gazette story Sunday detailed how the city fired Stephen Mader because he failed to shoot Ronald "R.J." Williams Jr., 23, after being called early May 6 for a domestic incident at the home of Mr. Williams' ex-girlfriend.

Mr. Mader found Mr. Williams standing outside with a gun pointed at the ground. Mr. Williams said, "Just shoot me," but Mr. Mader did not fire.

Two other Weirton officers arrived seconds later, and Mr. Williams aimed his gun at them, investigators have said. One of those officers fired four shots at Mr. Williams, with a bullet striking him in the head, killing him.

The story has become part of the national conversation about officer-involved shootings and has brought a wave of criticism against the city.

"What's disappointing is the phone calls and hateful messages and emails we received today," Chief Rob Alexander told two Weirton-area reporters Tuesday, according to a tape of the interview by WTOV-TV. "It's just dumbfounding to me."

The Post-Gazette was not invited to be part of that interview, despite messages left a week ago with city officials to comment for Sunday's story.

Mr. Mader maintains he was trying to de-escalate the situation with Mr. Williams. But Chief Alexander said it was Mr. Mader who "escalated" it by raising his voice and cursing at Mr. Williams.

Mr. Mader has said he did initially raise his voice and curse at Mr. Williams to get him to show his hands, which had been behind his back.

But once he saw Mr. Williams had a gun and he told Mr. Mader to shoot him, Mr. Mader said he began to use his "calm voice" and thought he was getting a response before the other two officers arrived.

City Manager Travis Blosser said in a phone interview Tuesday with the Post-Gazette that Mr. …

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