Judge denies immunity for ex-Kingsland officer charged in shooting

Zechariah Presley is charged with manslaughter in the death of Tony Green

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer, Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

KINGSLAND, Ga. - The trial of a former Kingsland police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed man will carry on as scheduled after a judge denied his petition for immunity.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett found defense attorneys for Zechariah Presley did not prove their client reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to defend himself from death or bodily harm when he shot Tony Green multiple times as he fled from a traffic stop last summer.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday in the trial of Presley, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter and violating his oath of office as a police officer in the June 20, 2018, shooting.

DOCUMENT: View a PDF copy of the judge's ruling

“We respect the court’s ruling, and we are at this point very well prepared and ready for trial on Monday,” defense attorney Adrienne Browning told News4Jax in a Friday phone interview. “We’re looking forward to it. Zech’s going to tell his story for the first time, so we’re moving forward.”

Thursday’s ruling came two days after the defense played Presley’s dashcam and body camera footage in court as they argued the shooting was justified. Despite being dark outside, the video clearly showed Presley chasing Green on foot, and he could be heard warning Green that he was deploying a Taser.

Exactly what happened when Presley caught up to Green is unclear based on the footage, but an apparent struggle ensued. Moments later, a series of gunshots rang out. 

Green, who had entrance and exit wounds on both sides of his body, died of his injuries. No weapon was found on him. Officers answering Presley’s calls for backup found he had no visible injuries. He was arrested and fired in the wake of the shooting and later indicted by a Camden County grand jury.

Pastor Mack Knight, who is close to Green’s family, does not view the immunity ruling itself as a victory.

“Someone asked me, aren’t you satisfied?” Mack wrote on Facebook. “No, I’m not satisfied, the family is not satisfied, the community is not satisfied until Zechariah Presley pays for his crime.”

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