Family: Autopsy shows training center activist shot at least 13 times

Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Teran’s family calls for transparency from GBI after Atlanta shooting
Manuel Teran, also known as "Tortuguita." (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Community Press Collective)

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Manuel Teran, also known as "Tortuguita." (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Community Press Collective)

An independent autopsy showed Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran — the activist killed last month near the site of Atlanta’s planned public safety training center — was shot by police at least 13 times, attorneys for the family said.

Decatur-based civil rights attorneys Brian Spears and Jeff Filipovits plan to hold a press conference Monday morning. They and Teran’s family are calling on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to release more information about the incident, which they called “the first time any environmental activist in the United States has been killed by the government.”

“Manny was a kind person who helped anyone who needed it. He was a pacifist,” Teran’s mother, Belkis Teran, said in a press release. “They say he shot a police officer. I do not believe it. I do not understand why they will not even privately explain to us what happened to our child.”

According to the GBI, which is investigating the incident, Georgia state troopers conducting a Jan. 18 “clearing operation” near the training center site came across Teran and other activists camped in the woods. Teran is accused of shooting “without warning,” wounding a trooper, before several of the injured officer’s colleagues returned fire.

The GBI says it has tied the bullet that struck the trooper to a gun found at the scene, and provided documents showing Teran, 26, had purchased the same gun in Sept. 2020. There is no body camera footage of the shooting.

State troopers are generally not equipped with cameras.

Many activists, civil rights groups and local officials have called for an independent investigation of the shooting.

According to Friday’s press release, Teran’s family has asked the GBI to release “whatever audio and video exists of the incident or any other information that would help shed light on what happened.”

“Any evidence, even if it is only an audio recording, will help the family piece together what happened on the morning of January 18th,” Spears, a longtime civil rights attorney, said. “This information is critical, and it is being withheld.”