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County Will Pay $20 Million To Family Of Suspect Killed By Officer

Prince George’s County, MD – The family of a man who was fatally shot by a Prince George’s County Police Department (PGCPD) corporal in January will receive a $20 million settlement from the county.

William Green, 43, allegedly crashed into six parked vehicles before he passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle in Temple Hills at approximately 8 p.m. on Jan. 27, WJLA reported at the time.

According to court documents, Green “appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance” when he was removed from the vehicle, WUSA reported.

He was placed in handcuffs and seated in the front passenger seat of a patrol vehicle that was not equipped with a partition between the front and rear portions of the cruiser.

Under PGCPD policy, officers are prohibited from transporting suspects in the back of their patrol cars unless the cruiser is equipped with a transport partition, according to WUSA.

While they waited for another officer to arrive at the scene to evaluate Green for drug use, Prince George’s County Police Corporal Michael Owen got into the driver’s seat next to the suspect, according to The New York Times.

Police initially said that two independent witnesses reported having seen Cpl. Owen and Green engaged in a struggle in the front seat of the patrol vehicle just before the corporal opened fire, WUSA reported.

But Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski later walked back that claim, as well as several others.

“We do not believe PCP was involved, we do not have independent witnesses that observed a struggle and we do not know for certain that Mr. Green was seat-belted in that cruiser,” he told reporters one day after the fatal shooting.

Cpl. Owen was not wearing a bodycam at the time of the fatal encounter because the department is still in the process of acquiring enough cameras to equip every officer, according to WUSA.

Cpl. Owen, a 10-year veteran-of-the-force, was arrested on a second-degree murder charge on Jan. 28, The Washington Post reported.

He has since been fired from the PGCPD.

“I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,” Chief Stawinski told reporters, according to The New York Times. “There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable.”

The now-formal corporal allegedly told investigators that Green had reached for his firearm, and that he shot him because he was in fear for his life, according to The Washington Post.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced on Monday that the county agreed to pay Green’s family a $20 million settlement, WUSA reported.

“When we are at fault, we take responsibility,” Alsobrooks said of the settlement.

Members of Green’s family and their attorney, Billy Murphy, attended the press conference along with Alsobrooks.

“I agree with County Executive Alsobrooks that this historic settlement shows that the black life of William Green and the black lives of his grieving mother, son and daughter truly matter,” told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. “Black lives matter.”

The altercation with Green was third shooting incident involving Cpl. Owen, WJLA reported.

His prior shootings involved armed suspects and were ruled to be justified.

In 2011, he fatally shot a man who threatened him with a gun, according to WUSA.

He also shot a man who attempted to rob him outside his home while he was off duty in 2009.

In 2010, Cpl. Owen filed a workers’ compensation claim and began seeing a psychiatrist as a result of the prior shootings, The Washington Post reported.

His supervisors later said that he failed to notify the department that he was receiving assistance for psychological struggles, despite agency policy that he alert them.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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