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Prince George's County officer indicted on murder charge in fatal shooting of suspect

A county grand jury indicted Cpl. Michael Owen on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, use of a handgun and misconduct in office, authorities say.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A grand jury has handed down an indictment for a Prince George’s County police officer accused of shooting a handcuffed suspect to death inside a cruiser in Temple Hills in January. 

Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. killed William Howard Green, 43, in Temple Hills on Jan. 27, prosecutors said.

A county grand jury indicted Cpl. Owen on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault, use of a handgun and misconduct in office, State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. 

Braveboy promised a fair trial.

"From the onset of the investigation into this incident, my office worked collaboratively with the police department, but also conducted an independent investigation into the facts of the incident,” Braveboy said. 

According to Braveboy, an investigation has revealed that Green was under the influence of a drug and that there was "movement" in Owen's police cruiser before the shooting.

Preliminary information indicates that Green "did have PCP in his system," Braveboy said during the press conference.

Braveboy declined to comment on a possible motive in the shooting.

The original account from police said that around 8 p.m. on Jan. 27, they received a 9-1-1 call for the report of a male driver who had struck multiple cars, continuing down St. Barnabas Road and ending at Winston Street. 

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

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

In court on Jan. 29, 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.

RELATED: Family of man fatally shot while in police custody seeks justice

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 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.

RELATED: Death of handcuffed man in police custody intensifies calls for reform of police protection law

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank 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.

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.

Charging documents also 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 back in January, 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.

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 and later taken into police custody. The incident was not caught on a body camera, as Owen was not wearing one, according to police.

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

RELATED: 'You killed him' | Prince George's County police officer charged with murder also tied to fatal 2011 shooting

RELATED: Officer charged with killing William Green has history of firing his service weapon, records show

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