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Prince George's County police officer charged with murder in fatal shooting of handcuffed man

Bond was denied for Cpl. Michael Owen, Jr. after he was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of William Green.

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. — A Prince George's County police officer is charged with second-degree murder after a fatal shooting in Temple Hills, Maryland Monday night. 

Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and associated weapons charges in the death of William Green. He was denied bond during a hearing on Wednesday, according to authorities.

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski called the announcement "the most difficult moment of my tenure as your chief of police." 

The original account from police said that around 8 p.m. they received a 911 call for the report of a male driver who had struck multiple cars, continuing down St. Barnabas Road and ending at Winston Street. 

According to charging documents released Wednesday, Owen was called to the scene and was told by a witness that Green was in his car sleeping. 

In court Wednesday, prosecutor Renee Joy said there were two witnesses -- a citizen/bystander, and a responding second officer, identified as "Witness 2," in charging documents. Neither witnesses were identified by name in the charging documents or in court.

It's unclear if the bystander called police, but Joy said in court Wednesday that the bystander blocked in Green's car while waiting for police to arrive.

After seeing Green in his vehicle, he was taken out of his car and, "appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance," court documents read. 

RELATED: Court docs: PGPD officer killed handcuffed man in police cruiser

Police said Green was handcuffed and placed in the front seat of Owen's police cruiser. Owen got into the driver's seat, with Green still handcuffed in the front seat, according to a officials.

About 5-10 minutes later, "Witness 2" -- the second officer -- heard gunshots and went to Owen's vehicle and saw Green handcuffed in the passenger's seat suffering from multiple gunshots wounds, court documents state.

Responding officers arrived at the scene around 7:19 p.m. and found Green lying next to the police cruiser with gunshot wounds.

Stawinski said Owen fired seven shots. Green was struck several times while he was handcuffed, according to charging documents. Officers tried lifesaving measures on Green.

RELATED: Officer is third charged with murder/manslaughter in Prince George's County since 2005 – but only one while on duty

Paramedics and officers took off Green's handcuffs. He was taken to the United Medical Center, where he died.

"There are no circumstances under which this outcome was acceptable," Stawinski said.

Stawinski walked back several statements that Prince George's County media relations representative initially said Monday evening following the shooting.

"We do not believe PCP was involved. We do not have independent witnesses that observed a struggle and we do not know for certain that Mr. Green was seat-belted in that cruiser," Stawinksi clarified.

Charging documents said police searched Green's vehicle and Owen's police cruiser and found no weapons. They were unable to find any evidence indicating that there was a fight that ensued between the two.

In Owen's bond hearing, Prince George’s County District Court Judge called him  "a threat to public safety," citing accusations that Owen fired seven times at the victim.

The victim was "absolutely no threat to [Owen]" Joy told the judge.

Joy said Owen should not be released into supervised home detention because the suspended officer shares a home with another active-duty officer and guns are present in the home.

Green's family gasped and gave muted claps in the courtroom as the judge made his ruling.

"Thank God!" one family member blurted out.

Police said they had received several questions about why Owen placed Green in the front seat of the car, but they said he was following department protocol which states that an arrestee is only to be placed in the right rear seat if the vehicle has a transport partition, which Owen's cruiser did not. 

"[A] police officer is in a better position to control someone, or prevent injury to a person if they have access to them in the front seat of that car," Stawinski said.

Owen was placed on administrative leave Monday evening, and taken into custody late Tuesday afternoon. The incident was not caught on a body camera, as Owen was not wearing one, according to police. 

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks noted that the 2019 budget funded the first installation of body cameras within the department, and that the 2020 budget will fund body cameras for every officer in the department.

RELATED: All Prince George’s County police officers to get body cameras, 6 years after original proposal, officials say

Owen has worked with the department for 10 years, including in the public information office, and is assigned to the Bureau of Patrol. According to The Washington Post, Owen fatally shot 35-year-old Rodney Edwards, who was accused of pointing a loaded revolver at Owen in December 2011.

Owen was also involved in a 2009 shooting when someone attempted to rob him outside his home while he was off duty, the Post said.

Owen was not charged in either incident. After the bond hearing, a prosecutor said they will review the 2011 shooting at the request of Edward's family.

Based on a search of public records by WUSA9, Owen may be the first Prince George's County Police officer to be charged with murder or non-negligent manslaughter since 2007, when then-officer Keith Washington was convicted of killing a furniture delivery man at his home.

A D.C. police officer, Richmond Phillips, was charged in Prince George's County with murder in 2011 for the deaths of his mistress and their 11-month-old daughter.

Alsobrooks said she has asked Stawinski "to order an independent review of our department's training practices and methods to ensure that an incident like this never, ever has the opportunity to occur again." 

RELATED: Prince George's County police investigating fatal officer-involved shooting in Temple Hills

Billy Murphy, the attorney who represented the family of Freddie Gray after his death sparked days of violence in Baltimore in 2015, is now representing Green's family according to representatives from Murphy's office. The firm declined to comment, on behalf of the family,in response to Stawinski's press conference. 

RELATED: Nationally prominent civil rights attorney taking Prince George's police shooting case

On Jan. 18, 43-year-old Abdul Hakim, of Greenbelt, stole and crashed a police cruiser while handcuffed in the front seat, according to police. He was charged with assault, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, unauthorized removal of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle theft, second-degree escape and theft and traffic offenses, in addition to the original domestic abuse charge that led to him being in the police car originally. 

"Due to his actions, my agency is now reviewing the practice of leaving a cruiser running for any reason at all," Stawinski said.

RELATED: Police: Prince George's County man in custody stole and crashed a police car while handcuffed

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