Prince George’s Co. officer charged with murder in 2020 cruiser shooting testifies in his own defense

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The first Prince George’s County, Maryland, police officer ever charged with murder while in the line of duty took the stand Monday in his own defense.

After nearly four years, this was the first time that Cpl. Michael Owen had ever put his version of what happened on the record. He is charged with murder in the death of 43-year-old William Green, who was handcuffed and sitting in Owen’s squad car when he was shot six times in January 2020.

At the time, Green had been arrested for driving under the influence of PCP after crashing into several vehicles in the Temple Hills area.

On the stand Monday in a Prince George’s County Circuit Court, Owen said in the matter of a few moments, Green began getting belligerent and combative, lifting himself and bouncing up and down in the front seat of Owen’s cruiser. He then repeatedly slammed into the officer. At the time, Owen said he was 6 feet 3 inches tall and close to 280 pounds, and that Green wasn’t much smaller than him, making for a crowded front seat.

“It happened fast,” recounted Owen. He said he began to radio for help from his partner when Green was able to knock it away. After getting slammed into one more time, he said he heard a “thud” on the center console of the vehicle, which he could tell right away was a gun. Owen testified he looked down and saw it pointed at him. He tried to grab it, but said initially he wasn’t successful.

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After a shot was fired, he then was able to get it away from Green, he said. Owen never specifically said who fired the shot, and he was never asked, but said once he had the gun he fired six more times to “eliminate the threat.”

Owen testified that through the whole chaotic scene he just described, he never felt the gun get taken from his holster, and suggested a second pat down of Green had been interrupted, giving him doubt in the moment that Green was actually unarmed.

“My jaw just dropped,” said Owen, when he realized he had fired his own gun. Under cross examination, he described that realization as “Oh crap, this is my gun.”

Asked specifically by his lawyer, Thomas Mooney, if he intended to kill or seriously harm Green, he said both times: “No, sir.” One of his final statements on the witness stand was, “I thought I would die.”

“Mike finally had a chance to tell his side of the story after not being asked for three years and 10 months,” said Terry Barnes, who has known Owen for years after studying the Bible together.

“After today I don’t know if there’s anything left that you can’t understand than what happened,” Barnes said. “He was point-blank telling them facts and truth and he didn’t get mixed up or crossed up in anything he said.”

He predicted Owen would walk free at the end of the trial. The case could be in the jury’s hands by Wednesday.

Months after Green was killed, his family reached a $20 million settlement with Prince George’s County, the largest settlement the county has ever paid out.

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