Ex-officer sentenced to 5 years, will only spend 1 in prison

Zechariah Presley convicted of violating oath in shooting death of Tony Green

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

WOODBINE, Ga. - A former Georgia police officer who fatally shot a fleeing, unarmed black man was sentenced to five years Friday for violating his oath as an officer.

But Zechariah Presley will only spend the first year of his sentence in prison. The remaining four will be served on probation.

Presley was acquitted earlier this month of voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Tony Green.

But the Camden County jury, which deliberated for nearly three days, found Presley guilty of violating his oath of office in shooting Green, 33, after a June 2018 traffic stop.

Presley was wearing a jail uniform Friday when he walked into the courtroom, which was filled with people wearing red for Green and others wearing blue for Presley.

The sentencing was very emotional, with Judge Steven Scarlett explaining that no side will be satisfied with the sentence because each side wanted something different.

Witness impact statements were made by Green's family members. They shared how they wanted the maximum sentence of five years.

"Tony being killed has been a nightmare for the past 16 months for my family. Imagine your son, brother, father, nephew, cousin being brutally killed because of a traffic stop," said Teresa Clark, Green's aunt. 

Presley's defense argued he should not serve any time in prison, only probation. 

"'Daddy's not coming home.' 'Why isn't he here? Where is he at?' It's just all the time," Presley's wife said in court. "He would be devastated." 

Some of Green's supporters were upset by a comment from the defense. They said it showed the level of insensitivity regarding Green's death. Presley's lead attorney, Adrienne Browning, stated that if Green had not run away from police, they probably wouldn't be in court in the first place. 

"I thought it was disrespectful," community activist Peter Anderson said. "I thought it was, you disrespected the community, and you are just going to laugh after disrespecting us."

VIDEO: Green's father, supporters react to verdict

Browning requested that Presley be released on bond as he awaits an appeal of the conviction, but the judge denied the request, and Presley remained in custody.

Presley's attorneys filed an appeal for the violation of oath conviction, which will be heard at a later date because the state needs time to respond. Green's family has moved forward with a civil suit.

"What we are saying is the next steps are continue to organize, continue to appeal, continue to fight and get ready for the civil cases," said James Evans Mohammed, with the New Black Panther Party. "The civil cases is where we will make our stance."

News4Jax requested an interview with the family through Presley's attorneys, but had not heard back as of Friday evening. News4Jax was also awaiting a statement on Friday's sentencing from Presley's attorneys. 

Though Presley’s body camera recorded his fatal encounter with Green, darkness and something covering the camera lens obscured the shooting and the moments leading up to it. That left the jury to weigh Presley’s court testimony recalling what had occurred with a sometimes conflicting account by prosecutors and investigators.

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