Police

Passive Voice Deployed in Mysterious Shooting Death of Handcuffed Man in Police Car

“The suspect was struck several times by the officer's duty weapon.” No, the cop shot him.

|

A police officer in Prince George's County, Maryland, shot and killed a man on Monday evening who was handcuffed and strapped into the passenger side of a police car.

Adding to the mystery of why a police officer might feel the need to shoot a handcuffed man is the vague manner in which the incident has been reported—a passive style of writing that would be comical if the outcome weren't so serious.

The Associated Press opened its report of the shooting with this doozy of a sentence: "A man who had been handcuffed with his arms behind his back by police in Maryland was shot and killed inside an officer's cruiser."

When you put it like that, the shooter could have been anybody! The report further explains that the suspect (identified by CBS affiliate WUSA as William Green) had allegedly struck several vehicles while driving in Silver Hill. Witnesses called 911, and when the police responded they reportedly believed that Green was under the influence of drugs, possibly PCP.

Police cuffed Green, put him in the passenger seat of the police car, and strapped him in. An officer then got behind the wheel. It's not entirely clear what happened next. Two witnesses said they heard or saw a struggle going on inside the car and then heard gunshots.

And then a whole lot of passive voice happened. Here's how WTOP worded it: "The man was struck multiple times with the officer's duty weapon." WUSA reports, "Police said the suspect was struck several times by the officer's duty weapon." They didn't even indicate that the guy was shot with bullets; they just went with what seems to be the police department's own wording. By contrast, WUSA's televised report flat out says that the police "shot and killed a suspect."

We don't yet know why the police officer shot the man. Body cameras are not yet mandatory for police in Prince George's County, though activists have been pressuring for years to push the county council to make it happen. Instead, police are looking for surveillance video from nearby locations to see if anything else captures the shooting.

The American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Maryland has responded in a prepared statement with a call for police body cameras, noting other recent incidences of police violence involving the Prince George's County Police Department that have not been recorded.

"It was only this past fall, in September 2019, that Leonard Shand, a black man also apparently in a disoriented state, was shot and killed by PGPD and officers from the Mt. Rainier and Hyattsville Police Departments,"said Deborah Jeon, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. "In that case, police claimed to have spent nearly 30 minutes containing Mr. Shand and using 'less than lethal force,' which is not the same thing as de-escalation. No mental health professional was called to the scene to peacefully de-escalate the situation. Again, officers from PGPD did not wear body cameras.

"And it was only this past October that a black man, Demonte Ward-Blake, was beaten by PGPD officers during a traffic stop and paralyzed from the waist down," Shand continued. "Again, the officers from this encounter did not wear body cameras. It is unknown if the officers were held accountable for their actions."

Perhaps the county should take a closer look at what's going on with suspects once they're loaded into police cars. Just last October, a former Prince George's County police officer was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail for repeatedly punching a man in the face who was handcuffed and belted in the passenger's seat of a police car. That seems awfully similar to what happened to Green, though at least the guy wasn't shot—wait, I mean, he wasn't "struck multiple times by the officer's duty weapon."

NEXT: Bernie Sanders' Wealth Tax Would Be Bad for Workers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wouldn’t the sentence “The suspect was struck several times by the officer’s duty weapon.” literally mean he was assaulted by a duty weapon?

    1. The officer’s duty weapon was apparently a magically animated, anthropomorphic hammer. With a will of its own, hell bent on destruction.

      1. Gun grabbers have been warning us of these for years. Leave it to the police to make them a reality!

      1. A pistol did a thing

    2. Procedures were followed.

    3. What difference does it make now?

  2. Body cameras are not yet mandatory for police in Prince George’s County,

    Body camera manufacturers must not have been forth coming with the bribes; everyone knows that quid pro quo is how PG county works.

    1. It takes a lot of bribes to overcome the power of a police union, though.

  3. They put him in the passenger seat, as in up front? I though all cop cars had a back seat cage for this very reason.

    1. Probably a Corvette obtained through asset forfeiture.

    2. This must have been a Pulp Fiction type situation. The cop was simply asking his opinion about divine intervention when the car hit a pothole.

    3. K9 unit in the back? Only reason I could think of why he wouldn’t put a guy tripping on PCP in the back seat.

      1. I call bullshit (degree in CRMJ). There’s no reason for him to be in the passenger seat. K9 units are special units, they’d be called in only if other cops are already on the scene, and from the reporting here, it sounds like there were other cops present. So one of the beat cops should have got him, which means backseat, behind the safety glass. Or if there’s a situation where the cop can’t take him in the back seat for some reason (say, he somehow managed to capture 4 people and can only fit 3 in the back), then he waits for backup or a paddy wagon.

        If the guy was upfront, then the cop was breaking procedure, in which case the cops are gonna be liable. Which would explain why the story’s being told so passively that you’d think Ghandi wrote it

        1. I can see that, albeit I think I’ve seen the first unit to respond be one that had a K-9. Probably because the guy was right in the area.

          Agreed his story sounds really hinky.

          1. Hinky? 1 Adam 12 see the man…..

  4. “A police officer in Prince George’s County, Maryland, shot and killed a man on Monday evening who was handcuffed and strapped into the passenger side of a police car.”

    Oh, so you ignorant civilians think a cop’s reasonable penchant for fearing for their safety stops with a behind the back handcuffing and the wall between the front and back of the cruiser. Pffff

    “…when the police responded they reportedly believed that Green was under the influence of drugs, possibly PCP.
    PCP because…
    The Hulk was originally really fueled by PCP and not gamma rays but they had to change it so kids would not try it.

    “Police said the suspect was struck several times by the officer’s duty weapon.”
    The duty weapon was referenced so as to distinguish his duty weapon from his throw down.

    1. why do I have the feeling that PCP is being put out there because it’s one of the “scary” drugs, and that after the autopsy we’re gonna find that he was off his rocker on pot or LSD?

      1. Or just regular old mentally ill. And anyway who cares if he’s on PCP. He’s handcuffed in a police car with multiple officers around. This was either an accidental shooting by an incompetent cop or an “accidental” shooting by an angry cop.

  5. Resistance failed to halt after restraints were put in place. Bullets subsequently discharged and flesh was penetrated. Verbal judo was deployed.

    1. Verbal judo was deployed.

      It’s going to start getting poetic.

      Silent arguments heard by no one. Bullets hung in the air as a restrained body passed around them. What was furious resistance has become stillness. Is the blue hand the one to blame or are we all? The camera, all seeing eye, is blind to justice.

      I freely admit my inferiority to Agile Cyborg’s skills.

      1. Not enough celestial orgasms.

      2. That got a laugh out of me.
        But Agile was something else for sure.

    2. Where is the comment about Verbal Judo as a band name?

      1. I thought Judo was what Democrats sought in order to finance their political campaigns…

        …is the kind of joke a total racist would make.

  6. At least they’re not claiming that the guy who was handcuffed in a police car committed suicide. That’s progress, I guess.

  7. “And it was only this past October that a black man, Demonte Ward-Blake, was beaten by PGPD officers during a traffic stop and paralyzed from the waist down,” Shand continued. “Again, the officers from this encounter did not wear body cameras. It is unknown if the officers were held accountable for their actions.”

    Wait… what? First, I think by ‘Shand’, you mean ‘Jeon’. Second, the police crippled a guy and then vanished off the face of the Earth? Because they weren’t wearing body cams we couldn’t possibly convict them?

    Scott, my man, I recommend brushing up on your coding skills.

    1. No way in hell we will let him code anything beyond “Hello World”!

  8. Since I’ve haven’t heard otherwise, perhaps Prince George’s County cops have learned not to SWAT any more of the local mayors. Apparently they haven’t learned much else.

    1. They had to mention a drug in the report, and PCP is easier to spell than marijuana.

      1. It’s also scarier to all the poor dumb civis.

  9. Everyone knows that guns kill. This is totally the gun’s fault, the poor police officer was just sitting there when the gun jumped out of the holster, pulled its own trigger, and shot the suspect repeatedly. The gun obviously identifies as an assault weapon.

  10. “struck multiple times by the officer’s duty weapon.”

    These weapons are imbued with totemic powers and can act on their own. For safety’s sake, police should be barred from carrying them.

  11. ACAB

    https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/mt-juliet-familys-dog-stabbed-6-times-by-metro-officer/

    Mt. Juliet family’s dog stabbed 6 times by Metro officer

    Ring video footage of the incident later surfaced online. We chose to mute the video in which you hear a dog yelping continuously and you can see a man repeatedly stabbing the dog. Video that makes Jacobs tear up.

    “If a dog was attacking mine, I’d be kicking it and doing whatever I could do to get it away, but I couldn’t imagine pulling out a knife and stabbing that dog,” he explained.

    The man in the video, a Metro police officer, told News 2 Cami attacked his dog. He said he tried all that he could do and was just trying to save his dog’s life. However, Jacobs says the video paints a different picture.

    “She was being restrained, it’s clear in the video she was being restrained. The dog was standing behind him when he stabbed my dog,” he explained.

    Jacobs says he is concerned about the officer abusing his power.

    “It makes me wonder you know using excessive force on a dog what are you going to do in the line of duty on something like this with a human,” Jacobs questioned.

    1. My folks had a nuisance raccoon and they called for help. Rather than shoot the thing the cop decided to beat it to death. I wasn’t there but my folks, boomers who trust the government, were disturbed by the pleasure the man showed while he struck it over and over and over with his club.

      1. That’s one way to do “animal control”, I guess. Next time, if you want to be humane without shooting it, just get a rabbit trap and put some human food in it. Raccoons will eat anything. Then relocate that little guy to the middle of nowhere.

  12. “A police officer in Prince George’s County, Maryland, shot and killed a man on Monday evening who was handcuffed and strapped into the passenger side of a police car.”

    Frankly I’m getting a little tired of you cop haters here at Reason. Sure, get all preachy while sitting safety behind your keyboard.

    What if YOU had to face a suspect handcuffed and entirely restrained in the police car and only had a split second to decide whether or not you should fill the harmless suspect with lead. Then you wouldn’t be so high and mighty!

    As for the AP’s famously passive voice when describing police crime against civilians, let’s cut the AP writers some slack. If they didn’t have authoritarian cop dick to suck all day, they would have no dick to suck at all.

    It will be fun to watch the judge apply qualified immunity to justify this all as a “good kill.” “Well unless you can provide me with an example of a police officer with this name gunning down a suspect with his name in this particular cop cruiser, I’m afraid this murder is covered by qualified immunity.

    New York Times headline after the PD provides a picture, name and adequate background dirt on the police murder victim:

    “Joe so-and-so killed with police weapon by unamed officer was no Saint.”

  13. Off topic, but is Reason not gonna talk about Don Lemon’s little escapade last night or is that too local? Seems to me that mocking the entire South and showing exactly why so many people voted for Trump in the first place would be an interesting discussion if nothing else.

    1. Please. Not even CNN is running this.

      JK. I assume we’ll see something tomorrow.

  14. “The man was struck multiple times with the officer’s duty weapon.”

    Perhaps after a while we’ll read “The officer’s duty weapon was relocated to the outside of a prison cell.”

  15. police claimed to have spent nearly 30 minutes containing Mr. Shand and using ‘less than lethal force,’ which is not the same thing as de-escalation

    De-escalation is for pussies. Cops are trained to have zero-tolerance for noncompliance. Show me a cop who tries to deescalate a situation and I’ll show you someone who has been fired for not killing the person who refused to obey.

    Obey the king’s men or be killed.

  16. Qualified immunity, aka the Costanza Defense…

  17. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

  18. Police commit 8% of US homicides, but when one happens in Maryland, setting of the historic TV series The Wire, I find it a bit more noteworthy. Amazing that we allow it to go on.

  19. This is all the same the stuff. Inexplicable or “racial” shootings by police are merely, the police enforcing their right/power to skim the proceeds of local drug dealers whom they are “protecting.”
    When the dealers (are thought to) fall short on their protection payments, they are disciplined.
    It’s so simple. And so consistent. WAKE UP, public – WE voted those drug laws onto the books in the first place, didn’t we?

    1. No, we didn’t. They were voted onto the books by a bunch of politicians (all of whom are long dead) immediately after the repeal of (alcohol) prohibition so that the government thugs who had been enforcing the previous prohibition didn’t have to get honest jobs.

  20. Time for the update. The cop has been charged with 2nd degree murder and manslaughter.

    1. WP: “Prince George’s County police charged an officer with murder Tuesday, saying he fired seven shots at a man who was cuffed in the front seat of a cruiser with his hands behind his back.”

      Seven shots wasn’t in the original reporting. Harder to spin that as an accident or a split-second decision, which is probably why the police chief decided to get out in front of the issue and charge the officer.

  21. PG Wodehouse, in UNCLE DYNAMITE:

    “It’s with ref. to this aggravated assault, sir.”

    “What aggravated assault?”

    “The one I’m telling you about, sir. I was assaulted by the duck pond.”

    The suspicion that the speaker had been drinking grew in Sir Aylmer’s mind. “By the duck pond?”, he echoed, his eyes widening.

    “Yes, sir.”

    “How the devil can you be assaulted by a duck pond?”

    Constable Potter realized where the misunderstanding had arisen. The English language is full of these pitfalls.

    “When I said, ‘by the duck pond’, I didn’t mean ‘by the duck pond’, I meant ‘by the duck pond’. That is to say,” proceeded Constable Potter, speaking just in time, ” ‘near’, or ‘adjacent to’, in fact ‘on the edge of.’ I was the victim of an aggravated assault on the edge of the duck pond. Somebody pushed me in.”

  22. Police cuffed Green, put him in the passenger seat of the police car, and strapped him in. An officer then got behind the wheel. It’s not entirely clear what happened next. Two witnesses said they heard or saw a struggle going on inside the car and then heard gunshots.

  23. Google pay 350$ reliably my last pay check was $45000 working 9 hours out of consistently on the web. My increasingly youthful kinfolk mate has been averaging 19k all through continuous months and he works around 24 hours reliably….. Read more </a

  24. Nice information. Thanks for sharing this informative blog with us. I really need this type of blog and I’m so lucky to found this. also visit .
    https://packersnmoversdelhi.com/

  25. Well, gosh, if they’re shooting black men that’s obviously more serious. We should look into that.

  26. Just for the record; there is nothing passive about gunshots – – – – – –

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.