Former Prince George’s Police Department officer Michael Owen Jr. is set to face trial for second-degree murder after State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy’s plea deal offer was rejected Friday.
Owen, a 10-year veteran of the PGPD, is accused of killing William Howard Green, who was unarmed and handcuffed in the front seat of Owen’s police patrol car on Jan. 27, 2020. Owen allegedly shot Green during a traffic stop in Temple Hills. Owen did not have a body camera on at the time, according to police.
Owen initially claimed a struggle ensued between him and Green, but PGPD’s then-Police Chief Hank Stawinski said the claim was not corroborated. The county charged Owen with second-degree murder, manslaughter and firearm charges within 24 hours of the incident.
Months later in September 2020, Prince George’s County reached a $20 million settlement with Green’s family.
Owen’s trial was slated to begin Monday — more than three years after the alleged killing — after two prior postponements. However, on Jan. 28, the state’s attorney’s office notified Green’s family that they were planning to offer Owen a plea deal for voluntary manslaughter in light of new evidence, according to Nikki Owens, Green’s cousin.
The new evidence included a broken radio knob in Owen’s patrol car, which the state’s attorney’s office thought supported Owen’s testimony of a struggle with Green, Owens said.
Ultimately, the plea deal was rejected — but when the state’s attorney’s office offered it, Owens said there were holes in the theory that pointed to a supposed struggle.
Owens said her cousin was handcuffed, and she told the state’s attorney’s office the new evidence didn’t justify the use of force by Michael Owen.
“My cousin had no marks where the handcuffs were. He had no bruises. There was no sign of a struggle whatsoever. [Prince George’s County Officials] told us that right off the bat,” Owens said in an interview. “[Owen] could have gotten out of that car. He did not have to fire his weapon seven times.”
The state’s attorney’s office declined to comment. Owen’s lawyer, Thomas Mooney, did not respond to a request for comment from The Diamondback.
With all of her questions about the new evidence, Owens asked county officials if there was an opportunity to not offer the plea deal. But officials said the deal was already offered prior to consulting Green’s family, according to Owens.
This was not the first time a plea deal had been discussed with Green’s family. Last year, two weeks before the scheduled trial, the state’s attorney’s office discussed a plea deal for second-degree murder and Green’s family dismissed it.
“We were not and will not be satisfied with a plea deal,” Owens said in a Jan. 17 email to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and the state’s attorney’s office.
Despite the recent plea deal being rejected, it is unclear whether the trial is still scheduled to begin on Monday. Owen’s lawyer plans to file a motion for a change in venue for the trial given the case’s heightened media attention in the county, according to The Washington Post.
Owens still feels betrayed and dismayed by the actions of the state’s attorney’s office to offer Owen a plea deal in the first place.
“They don’t understand the pain of [Jan. 28]. The tears that my aunt cried. The pain that [Green’s] son felt. The pain that his daughter felt,” she said during a rally Friday. “What they did was re-victimize us last Saturday.”
This story has been updated.