US & Canada

Maryland police officer charged with murder in killing of handcuffed man

Cpl Michael Owen Jr Image copyright Prince George’s County Police Department
Image caption Cpl Michael Owen Jr shot the handcuffed man seven times, police say

A police officer in the US state of Maryland has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a man who had been handcuffed inside a patrol car.

Corporal Michael Owen Jr, a 10-year police force veteran, shot William Green, 43, seven times on Monday night in Temple Hills, police say.

Police were responding to calls that a driver had struck multiple cars and was suspected of being intoxicated.

The shooting of Green, a father of two, was condemned by rights campaigners.

Green's family have vowed to fight for justice.

According to the Prince George's County Police Department, Cpl Owen and another officer were sent to the area - a suburb of Washington DC - at about 19:20 local time on Monday (00:20 GMT Tuesday).

After being advised by witnesses, they approached Green who was in a car nearby. Green was removed from his car, handcuffed and placed in the front seat of the patrol car as the officers waited for a drug recognition expert.

Cpl Owen then entered the patrol car and sat next to Green. A short time later, Green, who had his hands behind his back, was shot seven times for reasons that were still being investigated, according to police. The officers provided medical help to Green, who was taken to a hospital where he later died.

"I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime," police chief Hank Stawinski told reporters less than 24 hours after the shooting happened. "There are no circumstances under which this outcome is acceptable."

Cpl Owen did not have a body camera, and the police force said they were in the process of equipping all officers with it. He was charged with second-degree murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a violent crime.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince George's County Police chief said what happened was "a crime"

Cpl Owen was involved in another shooting in 2011, Mr Stawinski said. He was taken into custody and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

In a statement, Deborah Jeon, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said: "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."

She added it was "completely unacceptable" that the county's police officers still did not have body cameras and that the police department was under investigation by the Department of Justice after accusations from its own police officers of "fostering a culture of racism".

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