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Prince George’s Co. Reaches $20M Settlement in Handcuffed Man’s Shooting Death

Officials in Prince George’s County announced a $20 million settlement Monday with the family of a Washington, D.C., man who was shot to death while handcuffed in the front seat of a police cruiser in January.

County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) announced the settlement during a news conference Monday. The settlement, hailed as historic, comes nine months after police Cpl. Michael Owen fatally shot 43-year-old William Green following a traffic stop in Temple Hills, and amid a nationwide push for police reform following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“There is no price that you can put on the life of a son, a father and uncle, a brother — there is no appropriate price tag to accompany a loss like that,” Alsobrooks said. “But we believe that the actions taken that night against Mr. Green and ultimately taken against his family warrant this settlement.”

She added, “It is our belief that when we are at fault, we take responsibility. And in this case, we are accepting responsibility.”

Alsobrooks said the settlement amount would come from the county’s budget.

Owen, who has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault, is the first officer in the history of the county to be charged with murder for killing someone in the line of duty, the county executive said. The criminal case against Owen is ongoing.

Green, who had been taken into custody following a traffic stop late on the evening of Jan. 27, was inside Owen’s cruiser for about 10 minutes before he was shot several times with his hands handcuffed behind him.

Alsobrooks said she learned of the shooting the night it happened, and that the police department’s own seasoned use-of-force experts could find “no plausible explanation” that Green posed a threat to the officer.

The county executive said she supported Owen’s prosecution. “I determined that he should not be treated any differently than any other individual who had just shot someone multiple times with no clear justification, as there are not two systems of justice,” Alsobrooks said.

Owen, a 10-year veteran of the county police force, was not wearing a body-worn camera at the time of the shooting.

“The take-away from this is that the Black life of Mr. Green truly mattered,” said family attorney Billy Murphy.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Jack Moore. Click here for the WTOP News website.