Jury selection begins in manslaughter trial of ex-Kingsland officer

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

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

WOODBINE, Ga. - Nearly 75 potential jurors were brought Monday to Camden County Superior Court for jury selection in the manslaughter trial of former Kingsland Police Officer Zechariah Presley. 

He's charged in the 2018 shooting death of Tony Green, an unarmed man, during a traffic stop last year. Presley was indicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and violating his oath of office as a police officer in the June 20, 2018, shooting. 

The case has received a lot of media attention. In fact, of the 74 potential jurors, only nine said they had not heard of the case. 

The families of Presley and Green were inside the courtroom as attorneys asked potential jurors personal questions to narrow down the jury pool. Such questions included, "Have you ever had a poor experience with police?" and "Do you believe a police officer can do whatever they want if a person runs from them or doesn't obey them?"

As of 3 p.m. Monday, 30 potential jurors had been cut. 

The potential jurors appeared to be very honest. Defense attorney Alan Tucker, with Tucker and Browning Law, told News4Jax that the defense is happy with the jury pool.

"We are confident we will get a fair and impartial jury, probably one of the best jury panels I have ever seen as far as people just being far and impartial," Tucker said. "Some people have heard about it. Some people haven't."

Pastor Mack Knight, who is close to Green’s family, said he looks forward to the trial and a verdict.

"(It's) just important because we have been here from day one since June 20th of 2018," Knight said. "Certainly, on behalf of the community and the family, I want to see this play out to the fullest."

The first day of jury selection ended about 5 p.m. Monday. The jury pool will be narrowed to 12 people and alternates, and the trial will begin immediately after selection is finished.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett denied an immunity motion for Presley, saying defense attorneys did not prove their client reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to defend himself when he shot Green multiple times.

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.

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