Police officer charged with murder after fatally shooting handcuffed man

"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.”

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Accused of fatally shooting a suspect who was handcuffed and strapped into a patrol car, a Maryland police officer was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, along with manslaughter and weapons charges.

Around 8 p.m. on Monday, officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department responded to a report of a driver who had struck multiple vehicles near the Temple Hills community. According to department spokeswoman Christina Cotterman, the officers apprehended the driver and allegedly smelled PCP on his breath.

Buckled into the front passenger seat of the patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back, William Green sat beside Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. Due to the fact that Cpl. Owen’s vehicle did not have a partition separating the front and back seats, department policy states that the arrestee must sit in the front passenger seat.

“A short time later, for reasons that are now at the center of the investigation, Green was shot seven times by the officer’s duty weapon,” the police wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

Green was transported to a hospital, where he died a short time later.

Cpl. Owen had not been wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. On Monday, he was placed on administrative leave.

On Tuesday, Owen was charged with second-degree murder as well as manslaughter and weapons charges. During a press conference on Tuesday, Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski stated, “I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime.”

Deborah Jeon, the legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, wrote in a recent statement: “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.”

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