Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinksi revealed Tuesday night that Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. had been charged with second-degree murder, both involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
“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,” Stawinksi said during a press conference.
William Green, a 43-year-old father of two and resident of Southeast Washington, DC, was found asleep in his car and was removed from the vehicle on Monday night after witnesses claimed that the man had struck their vehicles at around 7:20 p.m. local time. Police suspected that Green was under the influence of some substance, and he was handcuffed and put in the front seat of Owen’s police cruiser as officers awaited a drug specialist.
#Breaking bond has been denied for Corporal Michael Owen. He is the Prince George’s County officer accused of murdering #WilliamGreen.— Michael Quander WUSA (@MikeQReports) January 29, 2020
Green was handcuffed and unarmed in the front seat of Owen’s police cruiser on Monday night. @wusa9 #GetUpDC pic.twitter.com/MwEkZm7sWr
Police say Green was buckled into the passenger seat and was shot seven times by Owen at around 8:00 p.m. Though police reportedly administered CPR to the victim, he ultimately died.
“I am unable to come to our community and offer you a reasonable explanation for the events that occurred last night,” Stawinksi confessed. Furthermore, Owen was not wearing a body camera at the time of the incident, and police are now investigating whether a surveillance camera may have captured the scene.
It was previously reported that phencyclidine - more commonly known as PCP - may have been ingested by the suspect, as Owen reported that he smelled the drug in Green’s car. However, Stawinksi repudiated that statement on January 28, confirming that PCP was not related to the incident and that no independent witnesses were present at the time the gunshots were fired. Stawinski also said it was unclear whether Green was buckled into his seat in the police cruiser, as officers had claimed.
“It was a big relief,” Sandra Mathis, Green’s fiancée, told NBC Washington following news of the charges. “I feel like justice will be served even though I’m hurting and I’m grieving. I am so happy inside that justice will be served.”
This is not the first time Owen has been involved in a shooting death. CBS Baltimore reported that Owen was leaving a Toys for Tots drive in December 2011 when he spotted a Rodney Edwards of Landover, Maryland, laying in the grass near Palmer Park. According to reports at the time, Edwards drew a gun on Owen as he approached to help him, prompting the officer to shoot Edwards several times. The individual was taken to a hospital and later died. NBC Washington noted that following Edwards’ death, his family publicly disputed Owen’s story about the incident.