Jury to return Saturday in ex-officer’s manslaughter trial
WOODBINE, Ga. — Jury deliberations will resume Saturday morning in the trial of a former Georgia police officer charged in the fatal shooting of a fleeing, unarmed man.
Local news media reported jurors in the manslaughter trial of Zechariah Presley adjourned around 8 p.m. Friday without reaching a decision after their first full day of deliberations.
The white ex-officer faces up to 20 years in prison if he’s convicted of voluntary manslaughter in death of Tony Green, who was black.
Presley was a Kingsland police officer when Green fled a June 2018 traffic stop. A foot chase ended with a brief struggle between them. Then Presley shot Green eight times.
Darkness and something covering Presley’s body camera obscured the details. Presley was recorded telling another officer afterward: “He started taking off. And I fired.”
Presley testified Green turned back to face him and he feared Green was armed. Investigators determined Green held a cellphone.
On Thursday, a prosecutor asked jurors to convict Presley for a “fatal mistake,” but a defense attorney argued that the officer justifiably “feared for his life” when he shot and killed Green.
The evidence indicated a short struggle between Presley and Green, but prosecutors accused the officer of exaggerating that they had a full-blown fight.
“He made a fatal mistake and it was a mistake that cost a man his life,” prosecutor Rocky Bridges said of Presley. “You don’t have to like Tony Green. …He ran from the police, not a good decision. But he was not armed. He did not turn on officer Presley. He did not deserve to die.”
Defense attorney Adrienne Browning accused investigators of spending hours examining the video and picking the most damaging parts to second guess Presley’s split-second decision to open fire. She blamed Green for deciding to fight Presley after a foot chase rather than just running away.
“Tony Green was not shot because of misdemeanor offenses,” Browning said. “He was shot because of bad decision after bad decision, until the threat was overwhelming and Zech feared for his life.”