Temple Hills, MD — In 2018, Sarah Wilson allegedly grabbed a gun and shot herself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Her death was ruled a suicide. Victor White III, 22, was handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser in Louisiana and also allegedly grabbed a gun and shot himself in the back of a police cruiser. Like Wilson, his death was also ruled a suicide. Then, in January, another man was killed while handcuffed inside a police cruiser. This time, however, there was no chance of it being ruled a suicide as the man was shot seven times by the officer’s service weapon.
Due to the egregious nature of the case, the family of William Green , 43, has just been awarded a historic settlement of $20 million after Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. handcuffed Green, placed him in the patrol car, and then shot and killed him, hitting him 7 times.
“To be clear, there is no price that you can put on the life of a son, a father, an uncle, a brother — there is no appropriate price tag to accompany a loss like that,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said, speaking next to Green’s family. “But we believe the actions taken that night against Mr. Green, and ultimately taken against his family, warrant this settlement.”
Billy Murphy, the attorney for the family said Monday the “civil justice phase” is complete, and the family now awaits justice in the criminal case against Owen. Murphy called the civil settlement “historic” and said it reflects the “heinous nature, the brutal nature, the senseless nature of what happened to Mr. Green.”
After the shooting, Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski announced murder, manslaughter, assault and weapons charges at a press conference. Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., a 10-year force veteran, allegedly shot Green seven times.
“I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,” Stawinski said at the time. There was no “reasonable explanation” for the events, he said.
According to police, that night, Prince George’s County police officers responded to reports that a driver had struck multiple vehicles. When they arrived on the scene, they found the driver, William Green. Temple Hills community, spokeswoman Christina Cotterman said the officers told her they believed the man was high on PCP because they could smell it.
While PCP does reportedly have an odor similar to magic markers, police claiming that a man was high on it without first conducting a toxicology exam was irresponsible at best and deliberately misleading at worst. Results of a toxicology test were never publicly released confirming that Green had PCP in his system.
But there are other details to this story that paint an extremely sketchy picture. For starters, police were able to get the driver handcuffed without incident. We can deduce that it was without incident because officers claim they placed the Green in the front seat of the police cruiser after they handcuffed him.
Yes, you read that correctly. Officials told the media that it is normal for Prince George’s County police officers to place suspects in the front seats of their vehicles. Based on the thousands of police stories TFTP has reported over the years, the idea that it is department policy to allow suspects allegedly high on PCP to ride in the front seat of a police cruiser — handcuffed or not — is unbelievable, as in, we don’t believe it. TFTP has reported on incidents of police officers being arrested and asking to ride in the front seat to avoid embarrassment only to be denied by their arresting officers.
Originally, police claimed that once the officer hopped into the front seat with Green that a struggle ensued. However, the investigation would later reveal that no such struggle ever happened.
This is likely the reason behind such a massive settlement. Green could have simply suffered a medical emergency, passed out at the wheel, struck several cars and then passed out. Instead of receive the help he needed, Owen put him in his police cruiser and murdered him. And, the public has yet to be given a motive as to why he did what he did.
According to CBS News, the settlement is believed to be one of the country’s largest one-time settlements involving someone killed by police.