A new autopsy found the 26-year-old environmental activist was sitting cross-legged with his hands raised when he was killed by Georgia State Troopers

According to a second autopsy performed on the body of the 26-year-old environmental activist, who was shot in January in a hail of bullets unleashed by a large contingent of Georgia State Troopers and police officers, Manuel Esteban Paez “Tortuguita” Terán was there with him crossed legs and raised hands while being killed.

Terán was killed just after 9 a.m. on January 18 while encamped in the South River Forest, just outside the southeastern city limits of Atlanta, Georgia. Terán camped in the woods with other environmental activists to protest the massive militarized police training center that the City of Atlanta plans to build to train its police force in urban combat. This area of ​​forest has been recognized by the city as critical to the area’s ecological well-being, and its destruction will have a long-term negative impact on Atlanta’s air quality.

Manuel Terán’s mother Belkis Terán demonstrates her son’s position while he is being killed by the police [Photo by Unicorn Riot / CC BY-SA 3.0]

The police training facility, dubbed “Cop City” by activists opposed to the 85-acre project, has received international attention due to the brutal violence unleashed on activists by both the Georgia state government and the city of Atlanta Attracting attention, who have staged an uninterrupted series of protests since it was first sanctioned by the city in September 2021.

Terán was hit by about 13 shotgun and handgun bullets used by a heavily armed contingent of Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Troopers during a “clearance operation” involving “multiple agencies,” according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). the group of peaceful demonstrators camped in the forest had to be driven out by force.

The new second autopsy confirms that the activist was indeed brutally killed, with the fatal bullet penetrating Terán’s brain through his right eye. It was conducted by retired GBI Medical Examiner and Medical Examiner Kris Sperry at the request of Belkis Terán and Joel Terán, Manuel’s mother and father.

The first official autopsy was performed by De Kalb County Coroner and contains far more complete evidence of how Terán was killed, including bullet fragments and other such details. The GBI has staunchly refused to release this information from the autopsy, while peddling the claim that Terán, a self-confessed pacifist, was shot dead for shooting at the state cops first.

The lawyers representing the family in their battle with city and state authorities to obtain information about their child’s murder — which they have been steadfastly denied despite the government’s obligation to release such information to the family — held Monday morning, March 13, a press conference starting results and conclusions of the second autopsy. Attorneys on behalf of the family this week filed a lawsuit under the Georgia Open Records Act against the Atlanta city government.

Jeff Filipovits, one of two attorneys with the law firm Spears and Filipovits, which represents the Terán family, explained the context in which Terán was killed. He said that on January 18, police carried out an unprecedented crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The “police went into the woods that morning and planned acts of violence that you can see in the videos of the city of Atlanta,” Filopovits said. He further noted that until then, no one had attacked a police officer during the months of protests.

He asked why 22 of the 23 protesters arrested in a subsequent March 5 raid are in jail on fabricated “domestic terrorism” charges, although police have not accused any of these individuals of wrongdoing. He said local, city, county, state and even the federal government are in lockstep to use the massive power at their disposal to crush any resistance to the militarized police training center.

The family and lawyers have repeatedly requested that the GBI release full details of their investigation. While the GBI is selectively releasing tidbits of information that fit its narrative that Terán shot the cop first, it actively blocks the release of information by any city or state agency.

For example, the GBI released a photo of what appears to be a badly scratched and somewhat rusted 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun on the ground amidst pine needles and cigarette butts. According to GBI, the gun was purchased by Terán in September 2020 and used to shoot the police officer. However, they have not provided forensic evidence of the injured soldier’s wounds, nor the serial number of the gun purchased and that in the photo they released.

The Atlanta Police Department and the city initially released videos of this family murder. When body camera footage released by the Atlanta Police Department showed that a soldier who sustained a gunshot wound was most likely shot by another police officer, the GBI actively intervened and stopped any further release of information by any Atlanta city agency.

Donate to the WSWS 25 Year Fund

Watch David North’s remarks on the 25th anniversary of the World Socialist Web Site and make a donation today.

Activists have called for an independent investigation and found that the GBI was actively involved in Terán’s death.

The observations and conclusions from the second autopsy strongly support the persistent claim of Terán’s mother and many other activists that he was “murdered in cold blood”.

The autopsy report states: “At the time he was shot, the missile entrance and the locations and trajectories of the missiles through the body indicate that the deceased was most likely in a seated position, cross-legged and the left leg partially.” over the right leg.”

It continues: “Several of the individual gunshot wounds entered his body, traveling downward and front to back; These trajectories are also consistent with the deceased being in a seated position on the ground, with incoming fire from armed persons standing in front of and relatively close to the deceased.” [Emphasis added]

There is little doubt that the GBI is trying to whitewash the killing of Terán, who was the victim of violent police tactics to crush opposition to Cop City. The state’s reactionary Republican governor, Brian Kemp, labeled these activists “terrorists” and mobilized at least 1,000 heavily armed National Guard troops during protests following the assassination of Manuel Terán.

Both the state, led by authoritarian Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, and the city of Atlanta, led by Democratic Mayor Andre Dickens, are so determined to proceed with Cop City that Unicorn Riot reported, “Community organizations involved in the ongoing campaign to defend the… According to South River Forest, outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and ‘Stop Cop City,’ prosecutors plan to file charges in the coming weeks to charge them as a ‘criminal organization’ under RICO’s statutes.”

The World Socialist Web Site is the voice of the working class and the leadership of the international socialist movement. We rely entirely on the support of our readers. Please donate today!