A police officer has been awarded $175,000 (£126,136) after winning a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former department. Stephen Mader was the first cop to respond to a call regarding 23-year-old RJ Williams, a black male who was suicidal and holding a gun in West Virginia.

Mader, who is white, didn't think Williams was a threat to anyone and the officer tried to talk to him.

He told the Guardian: "He wasn't angry. He wasn't aggressive, he didn't seem in position to want to use a gun against anybody. He never pointed it at me. I didn't perceive him as an imminent threat."

While he was trying to end the stand-off in a peaceful manner, two other officers arrived on the scene and shot and killed Mr Williams. A state investigation found their actions were justified because Williams raised his gun.

Incredibly, nearly two weeks later, Mader was fired because of a 'failure to meet probationary standards of an officer' and 'apparent difficulties in critical incident reasoning'.

It was revealed a few months later that the Marine veteran's position was terminated as a result of other aspects including, but not solely, the Williams case.

Credit: WTOV9/Fox
Credit: WTOV9/Fox

He subsequently launched a lawsuit against the Weirton Police Department on the grounds of wrongful termination. In addition to the payment, his former employer agreed to not try and prevent Mader from getting a law enforcement job somewhere else.

In a statement, the officer said: "At the end of the day, I'm happy to put this chapter of my life to bed.

"The events leading to my termination were unjustified and I'm pleased a joint resolution has been met. My hope is that no other person on either end of a police call has to go through this again."

Stephen Mader. Credit: Target 11/NBC
Stephen Mader. Credit: Target 11/NBC

The lead counsel in the suit, Timothy O'Brien added: "No police officer should ever lose their job - or have their name dragged through the mud - for choosing to talk to, rather than shoot, a fellow citizen.

"His decision to attempt to de-escalate the situation should have been praised, not punished. Simply put, no police officer should ever feel forced to take a life unnecessarily to save his career."

But it was the American Civil Liberties Union who had the most poignant response to the outcome.

"Mader's firing exposed, again, the toxic culture that infects far too many police departments in America," it said in a statement. "We need to end the insularity and hostility towards the community exhibited by so many law enforcement agencies."

Sources: Guardian, CNN, American Civil Liberties Union

Featured Image Credit: ACLU

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.

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