Maryland County to pay family of gunshot man $ 20 million while in custody

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A county in Maryland has agreed to a US $ 20 million settlement with the family of a man who was handcuffed in a patrol car when a police officer shot him dead, a county official said on Monday.The Prince George County police officer who killed William Green in January has been arrested for second degree murder and a trial is scheduled for next year. Michael Owen Jr., who was a 10-year veteran of the police department, has been jailed since his arrest.

Green, 43, of Washington, DC, was unarmed with his hands cuffed behind his back when Owen shot him six times, county manager Angela Alsobrooks said at a press conference Monday. She said Owen was the first police officer in county history to be charged with murder for a murder on duty.

“I am deeply sorry for your loss,” Alsobrooks told Green’s mother, who was joined at the press conference by Green’s adult daughter and son.

“There is no proper price tag to accompany a loss like this, but we believe the action taken that night against Mr. Green and ultimately taken against his family justifies this settlement. “

The bottom line is that Mr. Green’s black life really mattered, and the black life of his mother and two children really mattered.– William Murphy, Green Family Lawyer

Green’s daughter, Shelly Green, said her life had been “completely turned upside down” by her murder. She said the family will use the proceeds from the settlement to preserve her father’s legacy and “fight the evil of police brutality.”

“Words cannot express the pain and sorrow and emptiness we feel,” she says. “I barely sleep at night because that’s where I think about my dad the most. ”

Family lawyer William (Billy) Murphy described the settlement as historic and said it reflected the “senseless” nature of the murder.

“In my 50 years, I have never seen such a brutal, brutal, insane, so depraved case,” he said.

Murphy said Alsobrooks, the former county prosecutor, inherited a police department with a history of corruption and racism. Alsobrooks recently formed a working group to identify ways to possibly reform the recruitment, training and force use policies of the police service.

No evidence of a struggle

Owen is black, as is Green.

“In this case, the bottom line is that Mr. Green’s black life really mattered, and the black life of his mother and two children really matters,” Murphy said.

Investigators found no evidence of a fight between Owen and Green before the officer shot him on January 27, according to a police report.

This finding contradicts statements on the night of the shooting by a spokesperson for the police department, who told reporters that two “independent witnesses” said they saw or heard a fight “of some kind” coming from the car. patrol before hearing a loud bang.

Owen had handcuffed Green behind his back after responding to a traffic accident and found him asleep in his vehicle, apparently under the influence of an unknown substance, according to the report.

Owen then put Green in the front passenger seat of the patrol car, which did not have a bulkhead between the front and rear seats. Officers are allowed to transport arrested suspects to the front when their patrol cars have no bulkheads, police said.

No video body camera

Prosecutor Renee Joy said in January that Green complied with officers’ orders when he was pulled out of the car and handcuffed. Joy said Green posed “absolutely no threat.” Investigators did not find any weapons in Green’s possession or in his vehicle.

At a press conference shortly after Green’s shooting, police department spokeswoman Christina Cotterman said two witnesses told police they saw or heard a fight before the shooting . Cotterman also said officers smelled of PCP and believed the man was under the influence of the drug. However, the county police chief later said that the PCP did not appear to have been involved and that no account of a fight in the cruiser could be corroborated.

The shooting was not recorded on body camera video because the officer did not have one, police said.

Owen’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 22, 2021.

Prince George County is home to nearly a million people and its Police Department is Maryland’s fourth largest law enforcement agency, with more than 1,500 officers covering a wide swath of suburban Washington, DC .

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the police department’s early warning system flagged Owen months before he shot Green. Owen triggered the system using force twice in a row in the summer of 2019, but his superiors were not officially informed until January and did not act until Owen killed Green, the newspaper reported. .

Owen has been involved in at least two other shootings. In 2011, he shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at him after Owen left an event at police headquarters, the department said. Owen was put on administrative leave after this murder.

In 2009, Owen was on leave when someone attempted to rob him outside his home, the Post reported. Police officials said the potential thief was fired, but Owen was left untouched and fired back. The attacker fled, police said.

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