Written By @cabbagepatchgrl
On January 27, 2020, 43-year-old William Green was shot by police six times as he sat in the front seat of a police cruiser with his hands handcuffed behind his back. Cpl Michael A. Owen Jr was arrested and fired the day after the shooting; he is currently awaiting trial on charges for second-degree murder.
Now, Prince George’s County has agreed to give the family a $20 million settlement, which is believed to be the nation’s largest on-time settlement involving an individual being killed by police.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela D Alsobrooks and Baltimore-based attorney William H. ‘Billy’ Murphy were able to come to an agreement between the administrations.
“I agree with County Executive Alsobrooks that this historic settlement shows that the Black life of William Green and the Black lives of his grieving mother, son, and daughter truly matter,” Murphy said in a telephone interview. “Black lives matter.”
In the meantime, it has not been made clear how the county will fund the payout to the family.
After receiving calls about a man driving a Buick who had hit several other cars in Silver Hill, MD, police arrived at the scene. They found Green in a car nearby in Temple Hills.
According to police records, Officer Owen took Green out of the car, handcuffed his hands behind his back, and placed him in the front seat of the police cruiser to await a drug recognition expert. Owen then reportedly fired his gun seven times with six of the bullets hitting Green while he was still handcuffed in the front seat.
Green, a father of two, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Owen was arrested and charged the next day for Green’s death.
At the time of the shooting, Owen was not wearing a police-issued body camera, but he told authorities that he feared for his life because Green had reached for his firearm. According to prosecutors, there is no evidence to show Green posed any serious threat.
The Post did an investigation into the county’s police department warning system, and it showed that Owen was flagged twice for using force in a quick succession the summer before Green’s killing. The Post also found that Owen’s supervisors were not notified until January and that they did not take any action beforehand.
Department officials say that Owen sought workers compensation for psychological difficulties stemming from a fatal shooting early in his career. His supervisors were not aware of this, even though Owen was supposed to notify them.
To make matters worse, this is not the first time Owen has killed someone. On December 17, 2011, he fatally shot 35-year-old Rodney Deron Edwards after Edwards was seen lying in a front yard in Landover. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
According to Owen’s reports, Edwards pulled a gun while he was trying to investigate the incident. Although a handgun was found at the scene, Edwards’ family disputed the account.
In 2010, he filed a state worker’s compensation claim because of the fatal shooting of a suspect. However, according to police, there is no record of Owen being involved in a fatal shooting that year. But Owen claims that he began seeing a psychiatrist because of that alleged shooting. Now, it remains very unclear if Owen was involved in another fatal shooting at that time.
In the meantime, the Green family is not the only family that received a historic settlement for a fatal police shooting.
In Louisville, the city agreed to pay $12 million to the family of Breonna Taylor after she was shot and killed by police who raided the 26-year-old woman’s home.
Just last year, the city of Minneapolis paid the family of Justine Ruszczyk $20 million after an officer shot and killed the 40-year-old unarmed woman after she approached his car.