Family of man killed by Kingsland cop calls for justice

Ex-officer Zechariah Presley faces judge on manslaughter charge Friday

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

KINGSLAND, Ga. - After several chants of “Long live Tony,” lawyers and Tony Green’s family on Friday applauded the quick arrest of the Kingsland police officer who shot killed Green last week after a traffic stop.

Attorneys for the Green family said Officer Zechariah Presley “was stalking” Green.

Presley was arrested Wednesday on charges of voluntary manslaughter and was wearing handcuffs along with a suit and tie as he faced a packed Camden County judge Friday afternoon. The officer's family his supporters filled one side and Green's family and his supporters occupied the other side.

A spokesperson for Green’s family read a statement, asking the judge to not grant bond to the man accused of killing their loved one. 

Presley first appearanceA defense attorney called Presley’s pastor, who told the judge he didn’t feel Presley would be a flight risk or harm to the community, but the judge still denied bond.

Presley is being held in Glynn County Jail, as he used to be a corrections officer in Camden County before being hired by the Kingsland Police Department. His next hearing was set for July 17.

Green's family and its attorneys vow they will monitor the case in court, to make sure justice is done and Presley, who they called a rogue cop, is convicted. Attorney said they will file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Presley, the Kingsland Police Department and the city. The lawyers say what led to Green’s death is a systemic problem, that the city has failed in the hiring, training, monitoring and supervision of its officers, especially Presley.

"We believe there are many, many red flags that came up throughout the course of employment and hiring of the officer that were either ignored or not property addressed," attorney Reginald Greene said. "The more we look into the matter, the worse it seems to get."

UNCUT: Attorneys, family of Tony Green call for justice |
RAW: Zechariah Presley's first appearance in court

Tony GreenThe mother of Green’s 12-year-old daughter says this has been very difficult on the girl.

"It's enough having to break the news to her that her father is not here anymore, then she has to hear how it happened," Velvet Brown said.

How Green died

Presley, who is white, was following Green, who is black, on June 20. During a traffic stop, Presley made physical contact, but when Green ran, "Presley fired multiple shots resulting in the death of Green," according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation statement.

According to the arrest warrant, Presley acted "solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion, resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person."

The GBI reviewed video from Presley's patrol car and video from his body camera, but said efforts were being made to enhance the video for a clear view of the events. The GBI then obtained arrest warrants for Presley, who turned himself in to the Camden County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday. 

Kingsland Police Chief Daryl Griffis recommended Wednesday that Presley be fired, and Kingsland City Manager Lee Spell agreed.

The department also released Presley's personnel file, which shows he was hired last year despite admitting that he had physically fought with his wife, had bought or sold marijuana, repeatedly shouted at people, was involved in "2-3" accidents and had been arrested for "reckless, eluding, speeding," according to his handwritten text.

Presley also racked up nine incidents during in his year with the police department, at one point parking outside the house of a black man who had complained to the chief, prompting the man to say that Presley had him fearing for his life.

According to police records obtained by News4Jax, Presley and Green had previously interacted when he and another officer responded to a March 12 call. The caller accused Green and another woman of trespassing, but no arrest was made. 

I-TEAM: Background of arrested officer

A GBI spokesperson told News4Jax on Thursday that "the autopsy and body camera footage will not be released at this time."

Under Georgia law, if convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Presley faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

A funeral service for Green is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Refreshing Oasis Church in Kingsland.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.