PG County Officer Who Shot Black Man 7 Times While He Was Handcuffed Inside Cop Car Charged With Murder
Officer Michael Owen was taken into police custody and charged less than 24 hours after the killing.
January 29, 2020 at 7:46 pm
A Maryland police officer shot and killed a Black man who was already handcuffed and in custody. The officer, who has been involved with two other shootings, one of which was fatal, has already been taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder. The charge comes less than 24 hours after the fatal incident, reports Vice.
William Green was arrested after officers responded to reports of someone slamming their vehicle into several other cars in the Temple Hills area Monday evening. Officers allegedly believed Green was high and they smelled PCP, a hallucinogenic drug that causes violent behavior, from his car.
Green was then handcuffed and placed in the passenger seat of a police car. About 20 minutes later, Officer Michael Owen, who is also Black, sat in the driver’s seat. Green had asked Owen if he could use the restroom, and the officer responded by shooting the 43-year-old victim seven times, according to ABC. A struggle was said to have occurred inside the cruiser before the fatality.
Breaking: According to multiple sources, a Prince George’s County cop may face charges as soon as tonight after he shot and killed a handcuffed suspect who was seat-belted in his cruiser last night. The man reportedly asked to use the bathroom and soon after was shot 7 times. pic.twitter.com/hvZ8jBzx5B
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) January 28, 2020
Later, police refuted the allegation of PCP in Green's possession and said there was no struggle in the car.
Officers attempted lifesaving measures before Green, who was a luggage loader for Megabus, was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Prince George’s County Police Chief Henry Stawinski announced the charges against Owen Tuesday evening and said what transpired is unacceptable.
“Here are the facts: I am unable to come to our community this evening and provide you with a reasonable explanation for the events that occurred last night,” said Stawinski. “I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime. There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable.”
Owen, a 10-year police veteran, is facing charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and associated weapons, reports Washington Post. He is awaiting a bond hearing.
This is officer Michael Owen, now charged with shooting and killing a handcuffed suspect who was seat-belted in his police cruiser last night. pic.twitter.com/Vy4YzV6HkN
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) January 28, 2020
The chief said the office worked all night to conclude a thorough investigation of the shooting before charging Owen, calling in a special investigations team, forensic scientists and use-of-force experts. He said charging an officer within 24 hours of an incident is “unprecedented” for the department but it was the “appropriate remedy.”
“There aren’t two sets of rules," Stawinski said. “We are not defending the indefensible.”
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks called the incident unacceptable and has asked Stawinski to review training practices for officers.
Green's death was not caught on body camera, which angered many.
“We have a lot of questions,” said John Mathis, whose mother was engaged to Green.
State Senator Obie Patterson said he was shocked to learn Owen was not wearing a body camera.
“It’s a red flag,” said Patterson.
Only about 80 of the more than 1,500 police officers in the department wear body cameras, according to State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy. More body cameras will be funded in the next budget.
The ACLU said Green was unnecessarily killed and condemned the lack of body camera use, reports the Post. The organization said Green’s death was part of a pattern of the department harming Black men in custody.
“It is absolutely senseless for full transparency to not be a number one priority for this department,” the ACLU said. “It should have been a top priority years ago, but these recent tragic events only make this need more urgent.”
Braveboy said a grand jury will be used and promised a thorough investigation.
According to the Post, attorney William “Billy” Murphy, who also represented Freddie Gray, will represent Green’s family.
“I have seen a lot of horrible fatal police shootings, but this one is in the top 10,” said Murphy.
In 2009, a person attempted to rob Owen outside his Greenbelt home. The attempted robber shot through a sweatshirt officer was wearing. Owen, who was off-duty at the time, was not hit and fired back. The person fled the scene. In 2011, Owen fatally shot a 35-year-old man after being threatened with a revolver.
Following the shootings, Owen served as a spokesperson for the department, speaking to reporters about crimes and taking questions.