An officer tried not using lethal force and was fired

A young Black man killed by police shows the important role of dispatchers

In May 2016, R.J. Williams was shot and killed by Officer Kuzma of the Weirton Police Department in West Virginia. According to ProPublica, Stephen Mader, the first officer at the scene, saw that Williams distressed and even though he was holding a gun, indicated he did not want to shoot. Mader instead tried to diffuse the situation. But when two more officers arrived at the scene, Williams waved his unloaded gun and was shot.

Police were called to the scene by Williams’ ex-girlfriend and mother of his child after a domestic dispute. Bethany Gilmer told the dispatcher that he was outside intending suicide by cops waving an unloaded gun unloaded gun. This critical information was not relayed to the responding officers. .

Following Williams’ death, his family called for an investigation. Mader, who did not shoot Williams, was the only officer fired. In 2017, Mader filed a lawsuit claiming he was unfairly fired for not using lethal force. The case was settled out of court.

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