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After Handcuffed Man Killed in Cruiser, Cop Charged

'What harm could this individual do,' victim's fiancee asks
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2020 8:03 AM CST
Prince George's County Police Department Cpl. Michael Owen Jr.   (Prince George's County Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – A Maryland police officer is to be charged with murder after fatally shooting a handcuffed man in his cruiser on Monday. "What happened last night is a crime," Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said Tuesday, per the Baltimore Sun, noting Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. would be charged with second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault, and a weapons offense. The 10-year veteran had responded to reports of a driver striking vehicles near Temple Hills around 8pm. The suspect, 43-year-old William Green, was placed in the front seat of a cruiser, in line with department policy, while Owen took the driver's seat, a spokesperson said. "A short time later, for reasons that are now at the center of the investigation, Green was shot seven times by the officer's duty weapon," reads a news release issued Tuesday.

Police initially said witnesses saw Owen shoot Green, believed to be under the influence of PCP. On Tuesday, however, Stawinksi said "we do not believe PCP was involved" and "we do not have independent witnesses that observed a struggle," per CBS News. He also said it was unclear if Green had been seat-belted. Owen was not wearing a body camera. Despite the lingering questions, "there are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable," Stawinski said, adding this was "the most difficult moment of my tenure as your Chief of Police." "We want to know why our loved one was brutally shot in a police car," Green's fiancee Sandra Mathis tells WJLA. "What harm could this individual do to this police officer?" The family has hired attorney Billy Murphy, who also represented the family of Freddie Gray, per CBS. Green was black, as is Owen. (Read more murder stories.)

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