A Maryland county has reached a $20 million settlement with the family of an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by a police corporal while he was handcuffed in a patrol car in January, officials said on Monday. The figure, announced on Sunday, makes it among the largest settlements in a case involving a killing by a police officer.
“There is no appropriate price tag to accompany a loss like that one, but we believe the actions taken that night against Mr. Green and ultimately taken against his family warrant this settlement,” Angela D. Alsobrooks, the county executive of Prince George’s County, said at a news conference.
Ms. Alsobrooks, a former prosecutor, noted that the police are “given by this community an awesome and tremendously difficult responsibility of protecting life.”
“And when that trust is abused, it is necessary to take swift and decisive action,” she added.
The corporal, Michael Owen Jr., a 10-year veteran of the Prince George’s Police Department, shot the man, William H. Green, 43, multiple times on Jan. 27, while Mr. Green’s hands were handcuffed behind his back and as he sat in the front seat of a parked police cruiser, officials said.
Officials said Corporal Owen, who is Black, fired seven shots from inside his patrol car, six of which struck Mr. Green, killing him.
Mr. Green, a father of two who worked for Megabus, had been pulled over and handcuffed because he was suspected of driving under the influence after hitting several cars, the police chief said at the time.
Corporal Owen was waiting for another officer to arrive to evaluate Mr. Green for drugs when he opened fire.
An initial police account suggested that a struggle preceded the shooting. But after a review of what occurred, investigators concluded that there was “no plausible explanation for how Mr. Green could have attempted to control the gun” of the corporal, Ms. Alsobrooks said.
Within 24 hours of the killing, police officers charged Corporal Owen with second-degree murder. It was the first time a county police officer had faced a murder charge for killing someone in the line of duty, Ms. Alsobrooks said.
Corporal Owen, who remains suspended without pay, was also charged with voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a violent crime.
“I determined that he should not be treated any differently than any other individual who had just shot someone multiple times with no justification, as there are not two systems of justice,” Ms. Alsobrooks said.
The county has been in mediation for the past few months with the Green family and its lawyers. The separate criminal proceedings involving Corporal Owen are continuing, Ms. Alsobrooks said. Corporal Owen was in jail awaiting trial as of Monday afternoon, according to the county. His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment, but he told The Washington Post that criminal charges against Corporal Owen were based on “unsubstantiated or discounted facts and hastily misguided assumptions.”