Family of black man killed by police in Maryland to receive $20m settlement

Alex Woodward
·2 min read
Now-former Prince George's County Police Department officer Michael Owen Jr is charged with second-degree murder following the killing of William Green. (AP)
Now-former Prince George's County Police Department officer Michael Owen Jr is charged with second-degree murder following the killing of William Green. (AP)

The family of a black man fatally shot six times by police while his hands were cuffed behind his back in a patrol car will receive $20m, among one of the largest settlement payments involving a person killed by police.

Prince George County officials announced terms of the settlement for the family of 43-year-old William Green, who was killed on 27 January. Officer Michael Owen Jr was arrested the following day and fired from the Prince George’s County Police Department. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

He also was charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced the settlement on Monday morning alongside Mr Green’s family members and attorney Billy Murphy, who had secured a $6.4m settlement with Baltimore officials for the family of Freddie Gray in 2015.

Initial police reports following the killing of Mr Green, from Washington DC, claimed that witnesses reported a struggle inside a police cruiser.

But investigators said there was no evidence that the two men had struggled before Mr Owen fired at him while he was handcuffed in the front passenger seat.

Police reportedly found Mr Green asleep in his car when Mr Owen had placed him in handcuffs and sat him inside his cruiser while waiting to determine whether he was under the influence.

Mr Owen then fired seven shots, six of which hit Mr Green, according to prosecutors.

He is the first officer from Prince George’s County to face murder charges while on the force. He will face a trial for the charges against him, with possible jury selection to begin in March 2021, officials said.

"It is our belief that when we are at fault, we take responsibility," Ms Alsobrooks said on Monday

He died the same night as his daughter’s mother, said Brenda Green, Mr Green’s daughter.

“I share that day mourning my father as well,” she said. “I must make sure you never forget his name. We must use these resources to fight police brutality.”

The settlement follows the city of Louisville’s $12m arrangement to the estate of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was fatally shot by police during a raid at her apartment in March.

Her death, and the deaths of other black Americans by police throughout 2020, have galvanised international demonstrations demanding justice for their killings and an end to systemic racism that has immunised officers from facing legal consequences.

Mr Owen, who is also black, was held without bail in January after a judge agreed with prosecutors that he posed a “danger to the community” if released.

He was involved with at least two other shootings – one of them fatal – over his 10 years of employment with the force.

His killing of 35-year-old Rodney Deron Edwards in 2011 is under review.