sentencing

Protesters gather outside the Camden County Courthouse prior to the sentencing hearing for a former Kingsland police officer convicted of violation of oath of office in the shooting death of an unarmed African-American man last year.

WOODBINE — A white former Kingsland police officer convicted of violating his oath of office in the shooting death of an unarmed black man was sentenced Friday to five years probation.

Zechariah Presley was also sentenced to a year in jail but was credited with time served while he was incarcerated awaiting his trial.

Presley was charged with voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and violation of oath of office in the death of Tony Marcel Green, Jr., who was 33 years old when he was shot eight times on June 20, 2018.

He was found not guilty on the manslaughter charges two weeks ago, but the jury found him guilty on the violation of oath charge.

Before Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett issued his ruling, character witnesses spoke on behalf of Green and Presley.

Green’s supporters described him as a loving, friendly man who was a gifted artist. They said the only crime Green was guilty of was running away from a police officer.

Presley’s wife asked the court for leniency because he is the father to two young boys who constantly ask about his whereabouts.

Scarlett described the shooting death as a “tragic mistake” that has had an impact on the community.

Rocky Bridges, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty, which was five years in prison.

“This is a very serious charge,” he said. “We hold our officers to a high standard, and it’s tragic when that standard is not met.”

Presley’s lawyer, Adrienne Browning, said it was a tragic case that caused pain and suffering on both sides.

“A certain amount of culpability needs to be assigned,” she said. “There’s not one reason why anybody would benefit from being jailed on that charge. Nobody anticipated this horrible tragedy.”

She said Presley “has no desire of being in law enforcement again” and asked the judge for a sentence of time served and five years probation.

Scarlett returned to his chambers for more than 45 minutes before returning with his decision.

“The court understands the frustrations on both sides of this case,” he said.

After the sentence was announced, many Green family supporters gathered in front of the courthouse to express their disappointment that Presley was not given a prison sentence.

“It’s no surprise,” the Rev. Mack Knight said. “This stuff has been rigged from day one.”

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