(southafricnews) – A Maryland police officer was charged with murder on Tuesday after he fired seven shots at a man who was sitting in a patrol car with his arms handcuffed behind his back.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski announced the charges less than 24 hours after the shooting took place on Monday night in the Washington suburb of Temple Hills.
“I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,” Stawinski told a news conference. “There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable.”
Prince George’s County Police Corporal Michael Owen was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and other related charges for the death of William Green, 43, the chief said.
The incident occurred at around 7:20 p.m. after Owen and his partner responded to reports regarding an erratic driver who struck several vehicles while driving and was suspected to be under the influence of an unknown substance.
The officers stopped Green and put him in the front seat of a patrol car. They were waiting for an officer to evaluate Green for drugs when Owen shot him.
Stawinski walked back previous comments by police that Green might have been under the influence of PCP, a drug associated with violent behaviour, and there was a struggle inside the patrol car before he was shot.
“That was not corroborated,” he said.
Owen, a 10-year veteran of the police department, was involved in another shooting in 2011, Stawinski said. Owen is in custody awaiting a bond hearing and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
“We’ve got questions with no answers. We need to know what happened to William Green,” Sandra Mathis, who identified herself as Green’s fiancée, told television station FOX 5.
“His life matters. He was loved.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said the killing followed previous fatal shootings by the police in Prince George’s County, where the majority of the population is black.
“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,” Deborah Jeon, ACLU Maryland legal director, said in a statement.
Reporting By Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Robert Birsel