TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (AP/WJZ) — A Prince George’s County police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a handcuffed man in Temple Hills Monday night.
At a news conference Tuesday evening, Police Chief Hank Stawinski announced Cpl. Michael Owen, Jr. has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons charges in the death of William Howard Green, 43, of Washington, D.C.
“I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,” Stawinski told reporters.
The deadly shooting occurred Monday night during an apparent struggle inside the cruiser after Prince George’s County police officers responded to reports that a driver had struck multiple vehicles near the Temple Hills community, department spokeswoman Christina Cotterman told news outlets.
When officers located the driver, they smelled PCP and believed the man was under the influence, Cotterman said.
The officer got into the driver’s seat after the suspect was taken into custody and placed in the front passenger seat, according to Cotterman, who said that conforms with department policy, which states, “One officer may transport one arrestee, who will occupy the right front seat. For vehicles equipped with transport partitions, arrestees will occupy the right rear seat.”
Police said Owen’s vehicle did not have a partition.
Two independent witnesses told police they either saw or heard a struggle, and heard loud bangs coming from the cruiser, according to Cotterman.
Police said Tuesday Owen shot Green seven times.
Owen and another officer performed life-saving measures and took the man to a hospital. He died a short time later.
The shooting wasn’t caught on body-camera video because the officer didn’t have one, Cotterman said. Investigators were looking for surveillance cameras in the area that may have recorded the shooting.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said there will be a thorough investigation into the case.
Owen, a 10-year veteran of the department, also fatally shot a 35-year-old man in December 2011. Media reports at the time said Owen was leaving a Toys for Tots event at police headquarters on December 19 when he saw a man lying in a grassy area on the side of a road.
When Owen stopped to help the man, later identified as Rodney Edwards of Landover, Edwards reportedly pointed a gun at him. Owen then shot Edwards several times.
Deborah Jeon, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said in a statement Tuesday that there is no reason for an officer to shoot a handcuffed suspect multiple times inside a patrol car. Jeon called it “completely unacceptable” that Prince George’s County’s police department doesn’t equip all its officers with body cameras.
“These deaths are completely preventable,” Jeon said. “Police characterize them as unavoidable, but they are not. And body camera footage will show that.”
Once again, a Black man – William Green – has been killed needlessly by officers with the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), this time in Temple Hills, MD. It is completely unacceptable. #BlackLivesMatter #PGCounty
— ACLU of Maryland (@ACLU_MD) January 28, 2020
Their full statement reads:
“We are calling for full transparency and accountability from PGPD. We are still waiting on that decency and transparency for Leonard Shand. PGPD must acknowledge that this was a complete and shameful professional failure on their part. There is no reason why a handcuffed person should ever be shot multiple times by a police officer, let alone shot multiple times inside a patrol car. Anything short of that assessment would just demonstrate complete lack of respect for human life. We must put a stop to systemic police brutality and the needless killings of Black people. We cannot afford to fail in this goal because lives are at stake. #BlackLivesMatter”
At Tuesday evening’s news conference, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she has directed the department to review its training practices and methods to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen in the future.
“Having had the opportunity to be briefed by the department, I should tell you that there is absolutely nothing that is acceptable about this incident,” she said.
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