TEMPLE HILLS – A patrol officer with the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) will face murder charges in connection with a fatal officer-involved shooting in Temple Hills on Jan. 27.
Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., an officer assigned to the department’s Bureau of Patrol, is charged with second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, Police Chief Hank Stawinski said.
Owen, a 10-year veteran of the Bureau of Patrol, is charged with fatally shooting 43-year-old William Howard Green of Southeast, Washington, D.C. He was arrested on Jan. 28 and was denied bond on Jan. 29
Following the shooting, Owen and a second officer removed Green from the cruiser and used their department-issued trauma kits to provide medical aid to Green. He was transported to a hospital where he died a short time later, PGPD said.
“This is the most difficult moment of my tenure as your chief of police,” Stawinski said in a press conference held on Jan. 28 at the PGPD headquarters in Landover.
According to police, on Jan. 27 at approximately 7:20 p.m., officers were dispatched to the area of St. Barnabas Road and Winston Street for the report of a traffic accident. Owen and a second officer were advised by witnesses on the scene that Green had struck their vehicle, and the officers approached Green, who was in his car nearby.
The preliminary investigation revealed that Green was removed from his car. At the time, police believed that Green was under the influence of a substance. Furthermore, there were concerns raised by the officers on the scene of the incident, with regard to Green’s “level of impairment by unknown substances,” prompting them to secure additional support from a drug recognition expert to address those concerns, Stawinski said.
Green was handcuffed and placed in the front seat of Owen’s cruiser as they awaited the arrival of a drug recognition expert.
As they waited, Owen got into the driver’s seat of his cruiser and was then positioned next to Green. Shortly afterward, for reasons that authorities say are now at the center of the investigation, Green was shot seven times by the officer’s duty weapon.
“I am unable to come to our community this evening and offer you with a reasonable explanation for the events that occurred last night,” Stawinski said. “I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime. And as a result, I have directed our Special Investigations Response team to charge Cpl. Michael Owen, with second-degree murder, manslaughter and associated weapons charges in the death of William Green.”
For nearly 24 hours after the incident, Stawinski said he consulted with PGPD investigators and the forensics unit, among other officials in the department. There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable, Stawinski continued, extending his heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the family of the victim.
There will be a thorough investigation into this case, and after that process, final charges will be released, according to State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.
At the time of the incident, Owen did not have on a body camera, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said. Currently, according to Braveboy, only 80 officers in PGPD are fully equipped with body cameras. As part of this year’s budget proposal, every officer in the PGPD Bureau of Patrol will eventually have a body camera, Alsobrooks said.
“The PGPD has received several questions about why Owen placed Green in the front seat of the cruiser,” PGPD said in a statement. “Here is the directive our officers follow according to the department’s General Orders – Volume II, Chapter 4: One officer may transport one arrestee, who will occupy the right front seat. For vehicles equipped with transport partitions, arrestees will occupy the right rear seat.”
Owen’s cruiser did not have a partition, according to the police.
If anyone has information on this investigation, they are asked to call PGPD detectives at 301-856-2660.