P.G. County agrees to pay $20 million to family of man killed by county police officer

A Prince George's County police vehicle.

Prince George’s County has agreed to pay $20 million to the family of a man who was killed by a police officer, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced in a press conference Monday. 

In late January, Cpl. Michael Owen Jr. shot 43-year-old William H. Green six times, killing him, Alsobrooks said. The Prince George’s County Police Department arrested Owen in late January on multiple charges, including second-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, according to a police news release. Owen is still waiting for trial.

This was the first time a Prince George’s County officer had ever been charged with murder resulting from on-duty actions, Alsobrooks said.

“There is no appropriate price tag to accompany a loss like that one, but we believe that the actions taken that night against Mr. Green and ultimately taken against his family, warrant this settlement,” Alsobrooks said. “I am deeply sorry for your loss and understand this will not bring back your son.”

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The settlement will come out of the Prince George’s County’s budget, Alsobrooks said. Alsobrooks released an executive order in July that established a task force on police reform, which will consist of 23 individuals who will review police policies, training and use of force, she said. The Green family will be able to work with the task force, Alsobrooks said.

Green’s family, who appeared at the news conference, said the settlement does not rectify the injustice their loved one experienced. However, they said they needed it to move on. 

“This doesn’t bring justice, this doesn’t bring peace,” said Nikki Owens, a cousin of Green.

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William H. Murphy, who represented the family, said this case demonstrated how the culture of policing is “deeply racist.”

In response to a question about a possible shift in the department following the resignation of former police chief Hank Stawinski, Murphy said that change in a police department cannot happen without “wholesale reform,” which he said hasn’t taken place.

“As long we have brutality, and as long as it’s unaddressed by civil justice, we’ll take bad cops to trial,” Murphy said. “And sometimes getting big verdicts, like we’ve gotten historically, is the only way to get police departments and city governments and county governments to listen and do the right thing. Because if you haven’t hurt them in the pocketbooks, you haven’t hurt them at all.”

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