CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. - A former Kingsland police officer who's charged with voluntary manslaughter and violating his oath of office in the shooting death of a black man had been rejected by another law enforcement agency in Camden County before he was hired by the Kingsland Police Department.
Zechariah Presley applied to be an officer with the St. Marys Police Department in 2016. He was passed over, being told there were several excellent candidates to consider. Nothing was checked on the list of employment disqualifiers.
The Kingsland Police Department found 10 flags, but hired Presley.
In his questionnaire and interviews with St. Marys police, Presley admitted to being in an abusive relationship with a girlfriend and his wife. The process included a truth verification exam, using a voice stress analyzer.
The person who administered the exam concluded that Presley did not respond truthfully to a number of questions:
- Have you used any illegal drugs?
- Have you been accused of domestic violence?
- Did you commit a crime so serious that if known would keep you from being hired by this agency?
- Did you ever knowingly file a false insurance claim?
In his own remarks, Presley wrote that officers must “not be above the law, must lead by example.”
He went on to say, “I want to make a difference in my community. I believe society has a negative view on the officers. My goal is to help people in times of need and not of mentality of us against them.”
Seven people interviewed Presley. Two recommended he be hired. Two made no recommendation.
Three recommended against his hiring, and two interviewers added these notations:
- “Strongly” not recommended, “not a good candidate.”
- Not recommended, “not at all, very weak.”
Presley was following 33-year-old Anthony "Tony" Green 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 statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
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 and 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.
According to police records obtained by News4Jax, Presley and Green had previously interacted when he and another officer responded to a call on March 12. The caller accused Green and another woman of trespassing, but no arrest was made.
The Kingsland Police Department also released Presley's personnel file, which shows he was hired last year despite having 10 flags that warranted further inquiry, including domestic violence, marijuana use and repeatedly shouting at people.
According to documents in his personnel file, Presley racked up nine incidents during his 13 months with the Kingsland Police Department.
Presley is being held without bond 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.
Under Georgia law, if convicted of voluntary manslaughter, Presley faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
On Tuesday, the Concerned Citizens of Camden County will meet for the first time. It is a group of pastors who want to educate the community on police interaction and want to help encourage a positive relationship between police and residents.
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