Police Abuse

Murder Charges for Maryland Cop Who Shot Handcuffed Man in Police Car

Prince George's County had started a pilot program to fit officers with body cameras five years ago, but never set aside the money to expand.

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Cpl. Michael Owen Jr.

A Maryland police officer is facing murder, manslaughter, and other charges related to the mysterious shooting death of an unarmed, handcuffed man who was seated in his police cruiser last week.

Prince George's County, Maryland, Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., 31, was charged last week for killing William Green, 43, inside his police car. Green had been picked up in the evening January 27, in response to a 911 call that Green, while driving, had struck several vehicles.

According to the police, officers suspected Green was high, possibly on PCP, and had been (according to department procedure) handcuffed and put on the passenger side of the police vehicle, restrained, while police waited to hear from a drug recognition expert. Owen was sitting in the driver's seat, and, under unclear circumstances, pulled out his gun and shot Green seven times.

Owen was not wearing a body camera, and most police officers in Prince George's County do not wear cameras. Some eyewitnesses recorded Green's arrest on a phone camera that may be viewed here, but the recording stops before Green is shot. There was plenty of outrage to go around not just about the mysteriousness of Green's shooting but the fact that the county has thus far resisted efforts to put cameras on officers.

It looks like change may be in the air. In a press conference last week announcing the charges, Police Chief Hank Stawinski bluntly said that he could not offer a "reasonable explanation" for why Owens might have opened fire on Green. Stawinski said the official story that Green might have been on PCP doesn't appear supported, Green might not have been wearing a seat belt, and he can't corroborate any stories of a struggle.

Only about 80 officers of the county's 1,500 total officers have body cameras (even though the county made a big deal out of launching a pilot program for body cameras five years ago). According to The Washington Post, the issue has been funding. The chief says he supports body cameras. Many County Council members support body cameras, but efforts to mandate it for all officers have run into funding problems. The budget for 2020 has $1.2 million to cover 1,000 officers' body cameras. In the wake of Green's death, a council member is promising to reintroduce a bill to mandate cops wear cameras.

Owen has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, and other weapons charges. The Post notes that he's been involved in two other shootings, one fatal. More details from those shootings can be found here.

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  1. the official story that Green might have been on PCP doesn’t appear supported

    Oh, come ON!! Anyone *might* be on PCP!

    1. Does anyone seriously use PCP? That sounds like it was ripped word-for-word out of some DARE pamphlet.

      1. I can’t say for sure, but I’ve always suspected Hihn was intermittently posting while high on PCP. Or paint fumes.

    2. There’s no way to tell for sure what substance or substances were in this person’s system until blood test results are available, and for most substances, this takes time.

  2. OH! Of course he gets murder charges. He’s black. Duh!

    1. What about the fellow who got shot? Was he related to someone important?

      (NOTE – I don’t know, I’m simply Asking Questions)

  3. You should have high-lighted the fact that the cop was charged within 24 hours of the shooting. That’s like lightspeed for the usual internal investigation, there apparently was just no way in hell they could make any attempt to sweep this one under the rug or issue a “good shoot” finding and they know it. Of course, I fully expect the cop to use the speed of the investigation as a denial-of-due-process argument in his defense, obviously it was a half-assed investigation if it only took a few hours instead of the usual six weeks or more.

    1. Also notice it is second-degree, not the usual overcharge of first-degree so the jury has an excuse for not convicting.

      This, and the Houston murder charge (which should be first-degree), makes me think change is in the air.

  4. but efforts to mandate it for all officers have run into funding problems.

    PG county council members need to get their bribes first before they buy anything. That’s graft 101.

  5. Charged doesn’t mean convicted, and convicted doesn’t mean sentenced. I’m not holding my breath on this guy facing punishment other than a long vacation with back pay.

  6. The only reason they’re prosecuting this cop is because he’s black.

    Oh:

    under unclear circumstances, pulled out his gun and shot Green seven times.

    The Union is going to keep that as unclear as possible.

    1. What color was the victim? make the cop white and it would be national news with rioting

  7. Bodycams cost $1200? You can get a decent DSLR for that price.

    1. But the bodycams come with the biometric monitoring that checks blood pressure, pulse, muscle tension, sweating, eye movements and so on that indicate a cop is about to enter a tense situation and automatically shut themselves off.

      1. So the cameras turn off automatically when cops encounter chihuahuas?

        1. They pay extra for dog facial recognition.

          1. I hear they even have cameras that will just murder the dog for you, saves a lot of paperwork.

    2. Political kickbacks and bribes do though. That is how PG county works. 5 years down the line you’ll have a politicians wife stuffing bribe money into her panties to try hide the evidence (google PG County Jack Johnson, panties).

  8. …a council member is promising to reintroduce a bill to mandate cops wear cameras.

    Or else what?

  9. Owen was sitting in the driver’s seat, and, under unclear circumstances, pulled out his gun and shot Green seven times.

    Not true. According to the original report, Green was “struck by the officer’s service weapon”, not shot. This fine officer is getting railroaded!

  10. 1. Why are they charging the cop?
    Everyone knows guns jump up and kill people all on their own.

    2. $1,200,000.00 for 1,000 cameras?
    Amazon (!) has a bunch of ‘law enforcement’ body cams running from $55 to $125 each, without including volume discounts.
    Must be huge piece of that budget going to training classes for the city and union officials somewhere in Hawaii.

    1. The main cost of body cameras is not the cameras themselves. It is data management and storage. When my department bought cameras for everybody, the delay in implementation was the upgrade of the computer network and data storage capabilities. Video footage takes up a lot of data space, and the laws in most states require that all of it be preserved for a certain period of time. Then there are the FOIA and investigative requests for copies of the footage. Maintaining a system the size of P.G. County’s would cost enough money that a tax increase would probably be necessary, and the Council doesn’t want to have to take this step. My department was a fraction of the size of P.G.’s and it still cost over $1 million to upgrade the system, and costs significantly more to maintain now.

  11. Cops often have to buy their own guns.

    Here’s an idea. Any cop who kills someone off camera will be charged with murder. Leadership will find the money for cameras. Or the cops will buy them.

    Or they won’t shoot people.

  12. 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

    1. Yet some cops are much worse than others, even if all are bad.

    2. What nonsense! The vast majority of police officers are decent hardworking people that are in their profession to serve and protect the public. Situations like this one just make their job that much harder. You would prefer anarchy, I take it…

  13. Social stability requires violent gubmint enforcers. Just ask China.

    Just watched a Chinese video of a flying drone, with loud speakers, being used to admonish people it observed congregating in the street to not play together and to get home and put on a mask.

    But in Prince Georges County’s defense, Chinese cops don’t have body cameras either.

  14. And FFS Reason, stop forcing me to play videos I do not want to see. Do you think bandwith grows on trees?

    1. That’s actually the major expense associated with body cameras for the officers–data storage and management. The cameras themselves are the least of the expense.

  15. The victim will have been a drug dealer who fell behind on his payments to the cops for protection. This will never come out.

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  18. This officer person, Michael Owen, put the arrested man, William Green, with his hands cuffed behind him, in the front seat, which the article said was standard procedure. They need to change their procedures on that. Anyone arrested needs to be in the back seat behind the metal screen. If an arrested person is in the front seat they can still kick you, bite you or do other things to the officer. If the officer is right handed his gun will be on the inside, where the arrested person could have access to it. This is not to excuse the officer. He might have been able to use mace or a taser to control the arrested person.

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