Medical examiner rules police shooting a homicide. Police say they were forced to shoot Manuel Esteban Paez Terán after the 26-year-old environmental protester—who went by the nickname Tortugita—shot at them first. But no gunpowder residue was found on Terán’s hands, Georgia’s DeKalb County Medical Examiner reported.
The office has ruled the death of Terán (who used they/them pronouns) a homicide.
Terán was part of a group protesting the building of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, a 265-acre property that opponents have nicknamed “Cop City.” The protesters were camped out on the property in January when state troopers showed up.
According to law enforcement officials, Terán shot at a state trooper, prompting police to respond with a barrage of gunfire.
“The individual who fired upon law enforcement and shot the trooper was killed in an exchange of gunfire,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director Mike Register told the media in January. A GBI press release said officers “located a man inside a tent in the woods” and “gave verbal commands to the man who did not comply and shot a Georgia State Patrol Trooper. Other law enforcement officers returned fire, hitting the man.” The GBI also said that a handgun and shell casings had been found.
But an official autopsy report viewed by ABC News said there was no gunpowder on Terán’s hands. The report also revealed that they had been shot at least 57 times, suffering gunshot wounds to the head, chest, arms, hands, pelvis, thigh, buttocks, and abdomen.
“Collectively, the gunshots resulted in [Terán’s] death and therefore the cause of death is designated as multiple gunshot wounds,” states the report. “However, the gunshot wound to the head would have been fatal by itself as would have some of the other gunshots.”
An independent autopsy ordered by Terán’s family found they had their hands up when they were shot. The Dekalb County report said “there are too many variables with respect to movement of the decedent and the shooters to draw definitive conclusions concerning Mr. Teran’s body position.”
At the time of Terán’s killing, the media largely ran with the narrative supplied by the GBI.