Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced the county reached a settlement of $20 million with the family William Green, killed by a former police officer in January while handcuffed in a police cruiser.
Alsobrooks made the announcement during a press conference at the Wayne K. Curry Administration Building standing several feet from Green’s family members and their attorneys.
“I understand this will not bring back your son, but we want to thank you, Ms. Green, for your grace and for your patience during this process,” Alsobrooks said Monday, Sept. 28 looking at Green’s mother, Brenda. “In Prince George’s County, when we are at fault, we take responsibility. In this case, we are accepting responsibility.”
The family’s attorney, Billy Murphy, said the $20 million settlement represents the largest figure in Maryland and one of the largest in the country for an unlawful shooting by police.
Murphy also represented the family of Freddie Gray of Baltimore, who reached a $6.4 million settlement with the city of Baltimore five years ago after Gray died while in police custody.
Murphy said police reform in Prince George’s and nationwide should include all police departments implementing body cameras and subjecting perspective officers to psychological testing.
“I’ve been fighting for police reform … my entire life. There isn’t much that has changed in 50 years. The rhetoric has not changed. The police behavior has not changed,” Murphy said. “The Black community has never in this country been in charge of how it is policed. We have been policed in a way that reflects in the prevailing view that we are less than human.”
Members of Green’s family stood beside his mother, who wore a black hoodie with her son’s picture on it that read, “Rest In Peace. William Green.” He’s the father of two children.
Green’s daughter and youngest child, Shelly Green, said her father’s death on Jan. 27 rest on the same day as her mother’s birthday.
“For the rest of my life, the same day I celebrate another year of my mom, I will have to share that day mourning my father as well,” said Green, who added the family will use the monetary resources to combat police brutality.
The former Prince George’s police officer, Cpl. Michael Owen Jr., noticed Green sitting in a car in Temple Hills after Green struck three parked cars.
According to county records, Owen took Green out of the car, handcuffed him and placed him in a police cruiser. Several minutes later, Owen shot Green about six times and told authorities he feared for his life.
Green, 43, was pronounced dead hours later at a local hospital.
Police arrested Owen the next day and charged him with Green’sdeath, which Alsobrooks said marked the first time a county police officer was charged with murder while on duty.
In March, a grand jury indicted Owen for second-degree murder, manslaughter, first-degree assault and other charges. He remains in custody as he awaits a criminal trial.
Alsobrooks said the money from the settlement will come out of the county budget.
“This is not the way that we want to spend taxpayer dollars, which is why we are doing everything we can to make sure we’re never here again,” she said.
That doesn’t sit right with some residents who listened to the press conference online.
Dawn Dalton of Upper Marlboro, who spoke outside the administration building, said police assaulted her son, Lupe, about 10 years ago in Largo after a traffic stop while driving Dalton’s car with an incorrect tag number logged in the motor vehicle system.
Dalton said her son suffered fractured ribs and other injuries.
“I’ve been fighting this fight for many years,” said Dalton, who testified last week before the Maryland Senate committee’s police reform hearings. “I put blame on our elected officials because [they] know the culture within PGPD. This is not rocket science.”
Meanwhile, Alsobrooks extended the deadline for a county police reform task force to complete a final report from Oct. 30 to Dec. 4.She said Green’s family will be able to address the work group.
Alsobrooks said some changes have been made such as closing a loophole in the system that allowed Owen to receive workman’s compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder from a previous incident. He did not report it to the police department.
In addition, she said the county continues a nationwide search for a new police chief after the former chief Hank Stawinski resigned in June.
“There have been significant reforms that have been done in this department,” Alsobrooks said. “This department is not where we’re going to be, but we are sure not where we used to be. We will continue to do better.”