Maryland police officer, Corporal Michael Owen Jr., has been charged with murder after he fatally shot 43-year-old William Green while he was handcuffed in a police patrol car.
The incident occurred when police were responding to calls that a driver had hit multiple cars and was suspected of being intoxicated.
According to the Prince George’s County Police Department, Cpl Owen and another officer were sent to the area in response to the calls around 19:20 on Monday.
The officers approached Green, who was seated inside his car and removed him from the vehicle. He was then handcuffed and placed in the front seat of the patrol car as officers waited for a drug recognition expert.
According to officials, Owen then entered the patrol car and sat next to Green. Shortly after entering the car Owen shot Green seven times. Green still had his hands cuffed behind his back when he was shot. The reason for the shooting is still being investigated, according to police.
The officers at the scene provided medical help to Green. Green, a father was two, was taken to a hospital and later died.
Green’s family has vowed to fight for justice.
Owen was not wearing a body camera. The police force stated that they were in the process of equipping all officers with body cameras.
Owen was charged with second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a violent crime.
“I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,” police chief Hank Stawinski told reporters less than 24 hours after the shooting happened. “There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable.”
In a statement, Deborah Jeon, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said: “There is no reason why a handcuffed person should ever be shot multiple times by a police officer, let alone shot multiple times inside a patrol car.”
She added it was “completely unacceptable” that the county’s police officers still did not have body cameras and that the police department was under investigation by the Department of Justice after accusations from its own police officers of “fostering a culture of racism”.