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A Stone Mountain, Georgia judge has ruled that none of the Georgia State Troopers involved in the killing of Manuel Teran will face charges. The highly controversial Cop City police training facility that many Atlantans are concerned will militarize police and result in more police brutality and slayings of Black and Brown residents, was the site of violent protests in February of 2023, is also where a young protestor was shot and killed by a Georgia State Trooper.
Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, was a Venezuelan environmental activist and eco-anarchist who was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper after an officer was wounded in the leg during a raid of the Stop Cop City encampment on January 18, 2023. However, on April 20, 2023, a Dekalb County medical examiner revealed that Teran was shot 57 times with wounds in his head, torso, hands, and legs.
As ABC News reported, Teran, a 26-year-old Indigenous queer and non-binary environmental activist and community organizer, was killed during a raid on a campground that was being occupied by environmental activists protesting against the “Cop City” complex planned for the city of Atlanta.
The killing of Manuel Teran is unprecedented in the history of environmental activism. Keith Woodhouse, professor of history at Northwestern University, said, “Killings of environmental activists by the state are depressingly common in other countries like Brazil, Honduras, and Nigeria, but this has never happened in the US.”
Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney George R. Christian released a statement detailing the findings of his investigation on Oct. 6. “The use of lethal (deadly) force by the Georgia State Patrol was objectively reasonable under the circumstances of this case,” Christian wrote. “No criminal charges will be brought against the Georgia State Patrol Troopers involved in the shooting of Manuel Perez Teran.”
Jimmy Hill, father of Jimmy Atchinson who was shot and killed four years ago, by Atlanta police officer Sung Kim, said in an earlier interview that the killing of the young protestor reminds him of his own personal police-related tragedy. Atchison was unarmed when he was shot in the face after a foot chase with Kim.
“When I think of [Tortuguita], and I saw that they were on their knees, I think about my son, who received [contradictory commands] and was killed.”
Cop City developers expect to break ground possibly as early as August of this year.