There were reports of a driver who’s hit several vehicles south of Washington DC in Temple Hills and officers responded to the scene, police spokeswoman for Prince George’s County police Christina Cotterman told reporters.
After officers identified the driver, they said it smelled like PCP and that it seemed apparent he was under the influence of the illicit drug.
Police then handcuffed and seatbelted him into the police car’s front passenger seat, Cotterman said it was standard arrest protocol. Soon afterward an officer got in the vehicle and sat down in the driver’s seat.
However, it seems obvious that standard police procedures would be to put a suspect in the back seat of a squad car, most of the time never in the front seat.
Two bystander witnesses said they had heard or seen “a struggle of some sort” coming from inside the police car, and then “heard loud bangs,” according to Cotterman.
Cotterman said officers took lifesaving measures and the man was then transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The fatally shot man was not immediately identified by authorities, but his family members identified him to local media as William Green.
His mother Brenda Green was understandably rattled and told FOX 5 DC, “I can’t understand why you had him in the car seat, seatbelt down, handcuffed, and then they shoot him? For what reason? What could he possibly do?”
The officer who fired the fatal shots has now been publicly identified as Corporal Michael Owen who is being charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, and associated weapons charges in the death of William Green, WUSA 9 reported today.
WUSA 9 reported on Chief Hank Stawinski making the announcement, saying it was “the most difficult moment of my tenure as your Chief of Police,” and “There are no circumstances under which this outcome was acceptable.”
Michael Owen was given administrative leave, which basically paid time off. Body cameras conveniently did not catch the incident, since Owen wasn’t wearing one, police say.
The 2019 police budget for Prince George’s County funded the first body cameras being implemented with the department, and the 2020 budget is meant to fund body cameras for the entire department.
However, authorities are investigating if other cameras captured the incident.
“We want to know why our loved one was brutally shot in a police car, handcuffed, seat belt, and in the front seat. What harm could this individual do to this police officer?” Green’s fiance, Sandra Mathis, said in an interview according to Fox Baltimore.
Mathis added, “His life matters. Damn. Come on, y’all.”
Video of Chief Hank Stawinski’s announcement courtesy of WUSA 9: