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Independent autopsy shows activist killed after shooting trooper was shot 14 times


ATLANTA — The family of a man killed in a shootout with state troopers claims he was sitting cross-legged with his hands raised when troopers shot him to death at the site of Atlanta’s planned public safety training facility.

Manuel Teran was shot and killed on Jan. 18 as troopers tried to clear protesters from the site in the South River Forest. Protesters have been camped out in the area for the better part of a year demonstrating against the Atlanta Police training facility.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Teran started firing at officers when they tried to sweep the woods that day. Teran was killed after leaving a trooper with serious injuries, according to the GBI.

The family was at the DeKalb County Courthouse Monday and released the findings of an independent autopsy, which claims Teran had his hands up when he encountered the trooper’s barrage of gunfire.

We still don’t know what happened in the forest on the morning of January 18th,” the Teran family’s lawyer said in a news conference Monday.

Atlanta police body camera video from that day does not show the shooting, although the gunshots are audible. In the footages, four distinct gunshots ring out before a hail of return fire from troopers.

Troopers are not required to wear body cameras, and the Georgia State Patrol has maintained that there is no video of the shooting.

Attorneys for the family said the independent autopsy gave them a snapshot into what led up to his death.

“Manual was looking death in the face, hands raised when killed,” attorney Brian Spears said.

The five-page autopsy report reveals Teran was shot 14 times by different weapons and that he sustained gunshot wounds to his wrists, both hands, legs, thighs and scrotum.

“Manuel was shot so many times that the tracks from the bullets into the body converge and intersect,” Spears said.

The doctor indicated that the nature of the injures suggests handguns and at least two shotguns were used. The report goes on to state that the wounds in his legs and hands indicates Teran was in a seated position.

The GBI has maintained that officers fired their weapons after Teran fired first. According to the GBI, ballistics from the trooper’s injury matches a legally purchased weapon registered to Teran.

The autopsy report also indicates that it is impossible to determine if Teran had a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting.

“I want answers for my child’s homicide,” Teran’s mother, Velkis Teran said. “My life has been frozen with Manny being guilty until proven innocent.”

The family has file a lawsuit because the initial autopsy report and other evidentiary items have not been released.

Attorney Jackie “The Fly Attorney” Patterson, who’s litigated several officer-involved shooting cases, said state law allows law enforcement agencies to withhold releasing information while the investigation is ongoing.

The only time the attorney will get anything in this case is after the GBI finishes its investigation,” Patterson said. “It will not be prudent for the law enforcement agency to release it because they’re releasing partial information and that misleads the public.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation sent the following statement regarding the independent autopsy report;

The GBI did not conduct Manuel Teran’s autopsy. The autopsy was done by the DeKalb Medical Examiner’s Office and not the GBI as the reports stated. The GBI continues to work diligently to protect the integrity of the investigation and will turn our findings over to an appointed prosecutor for review and action.

The actions of the GBI to prevent inappropriate release of evidence are solely intended to preserve the integrity of the investigation and to ensure the facts of the incident are not tainted. The GBI investigation still supports our initial assessment. All the facts, to include any information brought forward by the family’s attorney, will be assessed along with all other investigative information by the special prosecutor. The GBI cannot and will not attempt to sway public opinion in this case but will continue to be led by the facts and truth. We understand the extreme emotion that this has caused Teran’s family and will continue to investigate as comprehensively as possible.

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