PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - A Prince George's County police officer on trial for the fatal shooting of a man who was handcuffed in the passenger seat of a police cruiser was found not guilty Wednesday.
A jury acquitted Michael Owen on all charges in the death of 43-year-old William Green.
Green was killed in January 2020 after Owen had arrested him.
Owen and other officers responded to reports about an erratic driver in the Temple Hills area who allegedly struck multiple vehicles while driving on St. Barnabas Road. Officers found Green asleep in his car on Winston Street and said they smelled what they believed to be PCP coming from the vehicle.
Toxicology later determined that Green was under the influence and testimony that came out in Owen's trial indicated that Green was not listening to police commands.
Police searched Green, placed him in handcuffs and put him in Owen’s cruiser.
Owen testified in his defense Monday that Green became more conscious while inside his cruiser and was getting agitated. Owen said a confrontation ensued in the vehicle and that in the struggle over his service weapon, a shot went off. He says he then wrestled the gun back and fired six shots at Green.
Prosecutors argued that Green was not a threat and the shooting was not justified. Their questions during Owen's cross-examination were focused on the search of Green, the alleged struggle and the number of shots fired.
Green's family received a $20 million settlement from Prince George's County in the case back in September 2020.
At the time, attorneys for the Green family told FOX 5 that the settlement was the largest publically known police brutality settlement in the state of Maryland, and possibly in the nation, involving an African American man and police.
Owen’s family declined to comment on Monday’s testimony but a friend of Owen’s spoke to FOX 5, saying he was glad to hear Owen tell his version of what happened.
"I’m sure he’s relieved that he’s finally being heard. Again, he’s been waiting almost four years for this moment, and we’re here," Terry Barnes said.
Owen has been involved in two shootings before, one of which was fatal. Prior to his arrest, Owen was a corporal with the Prince George's County Police Department and a veteran of 10 years.