TEMPLE HILLS, MD – The following is a statement from Deborah Jeon, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD) regarding the recent reporting of a Black man killed by officers from Prince George’s County Police Department. The statement is also endorsed by the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"Once again, a Black man – William Green – has been killed needlessly by officers with the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), this time in Temple Hills, MD. Once again, reports indicate that the unarmed man was in a disoriented state when he was shot and killed – after he was handcuffed and put into the patrol car. The police put Mr. Green in the front seat of the patrol car, next to the officer, who then shot Mr. Green multiple times at close range.
“There is reportedly no body camera footage that the man’s family and the community can use to assess the truth of PGPD’s claims. And there is good reason to question them.
“It was only this past fall, in September 2019, that Leonard Shand, a Black man also apparently in a disoriented state, was shot and killed by PGPD and officers from the Mt. Rainier and Hyattsville Police Departments. In that case, police claimed to have spent nearly 30 minutes containing Mr. Shand and using ‘less than lethal force,’ which is not the same thing as de-escalation. No mental health professional was called to the scene to peacefully de-escalate the situation. Again, officers from PGPD did not wear body cameras.
“And it was only this past October that a Black man, Demonte Ward-Blake, was beaten by PGPD officers during a traffic stop and paralyzed from the waist down. Again, the officers from this encounter did not wear body cameras. It is unknown if the officers were held accountable for their actions.
“It is completely unacceptable for a police department that is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice – and being sued by its own Black and Latinx police officers for fostering a culture of racism – to still not have body worn cameras equipped on all of their officers, especially given that PGPD’s BWC program was rolled out in 2017. It is absolutely senseless for full transparency to not be a number one priority for this department. It should have been a top priority years ago, but these recent tragic events only make this need more urgent.
“Police departments in Maryland – and across the nation – are built on white supremacy and have a serious problem with targeting and harming People of Color, particularly Black people. Just last week, in Stark, MD, a white man who was reported to be a danger to the community, and who shot hundreds of bullets at Harford County Sheriff’s deputies, was arrested – alive.
“These deaths are completely preventable. Police characterize them as unavoidable, but they are not. And body camera footage will show that.
"We are calling for full transparency and accountability from PGPD. We are still waiting on that decency and transparency for Leonard Shand. PGPD must acknowledge that this was a complete and shameful professional failure on their part. There is no reason why a handcuffed person should ever be shot multiple times by a police officer, let alone shot multiple times inside a patrol car. Anything short of that assessment would just demonstrate complete lack of respect for human life. We must put a stop to systemic police brutality and the needless killings of Black people. We cannot afford to fail in this goal because lives are at stake. #BlackLivesMatter"