William Green was identified by police as the handcuffed man who was shot to death in the back of a Prince George’s County squad car in Maryland.
The police chief has now announced that the officer in question, Cpl. Michael Owen, has been charged with murder. Green was 43 and from Southeast Washington.
It was a “fatal officer-involved shooting,” a police spokeswoman said in a news conference. They are now calling it something else: murder.
Police say Owen has been on the police force 10 years. The ACLU of Maryland wrote of the Green shooting: “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.”
Police wrote early on, “We are on scene of an officer-involved shooting in Temple Hills on Winston Street. We are gathering information and will share once confirmed.” Police said initially only that he was an adult male. In a later news conference, Prince George’s County Police Department spokeswoman Christina Cotterman said that authorities pledge to get a clear accounting of what exactly happened inside the police cruiser.
The shooting occurred on the evening of January 27, 2020.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Officers Received a Call That Green, a Megabus Luggage Loader, Had Struck Multiple Vehicles
The Washington Post reported that Green worked as a Megabus luggage loader and had two children. He was about to get a promotion. At 8 p.m. police received a 911 call for a report of a driver, a man, who had struck multiple vehicles, said Cotterman.
Officers found the driver in question. They immediately believed he might be under the influence. They smelled what they believed was PCP coming from the car, according to Cotterman, who reiterated, “He struck multiple vehicles.” However, in the later news conference, police have backed off the PCP comment, now saying they don’t believe Green was on it.
The police handcuffed the driver and put him in the front seat of a cruiser. They seatbelted him in, Cotterman said. They called a drug recognition expert to come to the scene. However, now police aren’t sure whether Green was wearing a seatbelt.
2. Two Witnesses Observed a Struggle Inside the Cruiser, Police Initially Said But Now They Can’t Corroborate It
An officer got into the driver’s seat of the cruiser. The suspect was handcuffed in the passenger seat at this point.
“Two independent witnesses tell our investigators that they see a struggle or hear a struggle of some sort coming from the cruiser and they hear loud bangs,” said Cotterman initially. However, now police say they can’t corroborate this account.
The man was struck multiple times by the officer’s duty weapon, she confirmed. Police now say it was seven times.
The man was sitting there with his hands behind his back, she added. Asked if there was a struggle for the officer’s weapon, she said that this is what authorities are trying to figure that out.
3. The Man Died at a Local Hospital and Police Say They’re Trying to Find Out ‘Exactly What Happened’
Officers got their trauma kits out immediately and “tried to attempt life-saving measures on the suspect,” said Cotterman.
He was rushed to a local hospital and died a short time later.
“We are at the very beginning of what is going to be a very complex investigation into exactly what happened inside that cruiser. That’s the crux of what we’re going to be looking at,” she said.
“We are determined to find out what happened inside that cruiser,” she said.
4. There Is No Body Camera Footage of the Incident
The shooting was not caught on body camera, and police said they are scouring the area for other potential video footage to further illuminate what happened inside the cruiser.
5. The Officer Is on Administrative Leave
The officer was on administrative leave, which is standard operating procedure whenever there is a discharge of a firearm, according to Cotterman.