A Prince George’s County, Md. officer is facing multiple charges, including second-degree murder, after fatally shooting a Black man who was handcuffed and wearing a seatbelt inside of a police cruiser on Monday night.
According to NBC Washington, Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., who is also Black and has been on the force for 10 years, is also facing charges of involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
The incident started in Temple Hills, Md, around 7:20 p.m. on Monday, when officers were called about a traffic accident around St. Barnabas Road and Winston Street.
When Owen and another officer arrived on the scene, they were told by witnesses that a man had hit their vehicles.
William Howard Green, 43, was identified as the suspected driver. Officers found him sitting in his car nearby.
Believing that Green was impaired, officers removed him from his car, handcuffed him behind his back, and put him in the front passenger seat of Owen’s cruiser as they waited for a drug recognition expert to get to the scene.
Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski acknowledged that placing a suspect in the front seat, and not the back seat allows the officer to maintain control of the suspect.
How that ended up in Green being shot about seven times is still unclear.
“I am unable to come to our community and offer you a reasonable explanation for the events that occurred last night,” Stawinski said.
“Please tell me what could he have done to cause someone to draw a gun and fire, not once, multiple times?” Green’s fiancée queried to the news station. “Kill him on the spot.”
Owen did not have a body cam on him.
“We will seek truth and will vigorously pursue justice in a way that is fair and responsible,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said in a statement, promising a “thorough and independent investigation. “Once we have received all information and completed our own investigation and analysis, I assure you that my office will be transparent and accountable to the public about our findings and how we will move forward.”