WOODBINE — Bond has been denied for a Kingsland police officer accused in the June 20 shooting death of an unarmed African-American man.
Glynn County Magistrate Judge Alex Atwood denied the request to grant bond to Zechariah Presley, 26, during the initial appearance hearing Friday after listening to a request by the officer’s lawyers to release him on a “reasonable bond” because he is not a flight risk. Camden County judges recused themselves because of previous working relationships with Presley.
Presley was led into the courtroom in shackles, and answered Atwood’s questions with short, clear responses.
Presley’s lawyer pointed out his client is married with two children, she believes there was no malice or premeditation in the shooting death and said that Presley voluntarily surrendered to authorities after an arrest warrant was issued.
Prior to listening to the request to grant bail, Atwood read Presley the charges — voluntary manslaughter and violation of his oath of office — to ensure the officer understood the charges and his rights.
Joshua Cribs, a member of Presley’s church, spoke on behalf of Presley, saying he is not a flight risk, will “keep to himself and not try to intimidate witnesses.”
Sandee Ortega, a victim’s advocate with the judicial circuit, asked Atwood to deny bond, saying the victim, Tony Marcel Green, 33, was shot multiple times in the back and head. She said several complaints had been filed against Presley in the past.
Presley’s job, she said, was not to “shoot multiple times for running from an officer.”
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Presley was on duty June 20 and was following a vehicle around 10:20 p.m. that stopped at the intersection of Lily and North East streets in Kingsland. Green, who was the driver, and the passenger got out of the vehicle and fled on foot.
According to the report, Presley pursued Green and after making contact with him, a brief altercation occurred. The officer fired multiple shots, resulting in Green’s death, according to the report.
Prior to the hearing, lawyers representing Green’s family held a press conference in front of Kingsland City Hall.
Reginald Greene, one of the family’s lawyers, said he was “encouraged” Presley has already been arrested and fired by the department.
“We understand the journey has just begun for the family,” he said.
The city should have recognized the many “red flags” about Presley based on numerous complaints about his behavior as an officer.
“We find it telling that the GBI in less than a week issued warrants for his arrest,” he said.
Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, is also representing Green’s family.
“This is one of the worst cases we’ve encountered,” he said. “This is one of the most serious cases in the country.”
He accused Presley of “stalking and hunting (Green) down like an animal.”
He praised the GBI for moving so quickly to file charges.
“It is a rare occurrence when a police officer is charged for killing anyone, particularly an African-American man,” he said.
Still, Shabazz said family members and concerned citizens should continue to ask for justice.
“We want to make sure this ends the right way,” he said. “We want a conviction, not an arrest. We want him behind bars for many years. We’re going to fight this case with all we have for Tony Green.”
Raquel Ordonez said she was visiting from California and felt compelled to attend the press conference and bond hearing to show support for Green’s family.
“I came to pray and see,” she said.
Ordonez said she went to the scene the day after the shooting and was surprised to see there was no crime scene tape and the area was not secured for possible evidence.
“I was really disappointed,” she said.
A “love fest” is being organized from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lions Field in Kingsland on July 15 to help the community come together, Ordonez said.
Marion Benefield, Green’s first cousin, said Tony Green was preparing for a manager’s job at a local restaurant. He was “funny, articulate and humble,” she said.
“This is a pain we don’t want anyone to feel,” she said. “ We have questions. We don’t understand why. Justice for Tony.”
After Atwood denied Presley’s bond appeal, he said a preliminary hearing will be set for July 17.