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‘Like an Animal in the Street’: Trial Begins for Georgia Cop Who Gunned Down Unarmed Black Man Running Away

After a judge shot down an immunity request, trial started Tuesday for a white Georgia police officer shown on video firing eight times at a Black man and killing him last year in South Georgia.

The jury of eight men and six women was seated at 9:45 a.m. and only has one Black person, a woman, according to First Coast News.

It convened after a judge earlier found defense attorneys for Zechariah Presley did not prove he reasonably believed deadly force was necessary in the shooting death of 33-year-old Anthony Green June 20, 2018, according to WJXT news station.

Presley was charged with voluntary manslaughter and violating his oath of office, the news station reported.

Video of the incident the officer is accused in was played Sept. 24 in a Camden County courtroom near the Georgia-Florida border, according to media outlets covering the case.

Presley can be heard in the video telling fellow officers at the scene that Green got on top of him during a struggle then “took off and that’s when I fired,” according to The Associated Press.

Presley contended in court that he was defending himself, and he requested immunity from prosecution, the AP reported.

A judge didn’t immediately rule on the request, giving family members and people in the community time to protest at the Camden County courthouse while waiting for the judge’s final decision, they told Action News Jax.

Jaunetta Mack, Green’s aunt, told the news station watching the video in court made her sick to her stomach.

“I feel like he did not do his job right because you don’t run nobody down and just shoot that many times,” Mack said. “You shot eight times and you was intended to kill him.” 

The family’s pastor, Mack Knight, was also there when the video played in court, and described the shooting as “horrific and emotionally overwhelming” on Facebook Sept. 24.

“To watch a young, unarmed black man be gunned down like that was gut wrenching and absolutely emotional,” Knight said. “Tony Green was gunned down like an animal in the street.”

He also asked in the post how an unarmed man “running away from you” posed “a threat to an officer, carrying a weapon and a taser.”

Then, Knight said the incident was indicative of a “systemic problem in America.”  

“For the sensitivity of the ongoing case, I won’t expose all the details of the video,” the pastor said. “But I will say this; according to the video and what we already knew, Zechariah Presley didn’t have any care for Tony Green’s life.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed in news releases posted online immediately following the incident that Green was running away when Presley shot him.

The officer turned himself into the Camden County Sheriff’s Office June 27, 2018, according to the agency.

He was arrested on one count of voluntary manslaughter and one count of violation of oath of office after a vehicle stop led to a chase Presley was involved in, according to the GBI. 

A Kingsland Police officer later identified as Presley was following a vehicle Green was driving when it stopped at the intersection of Lily Street and North East Street at about 10:40 p.m. in Kingsland, the GBI reported in a news release.

“The driver and passenger ran from the vehicle and the officer pursued the driver,” the agency said. 

The officer later fired multiple shots, resulting in Green’s death, GBI said.

Presley was placed on administrative leave following the shooting. If convicted, he could spend up to 20 years in prison, Action News Jax reported.

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