Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney George R. Christian announced that Georgia State Police troopers involved in the fatal shooting of Manuel "Tortuguita" Teran will not face charges.
Teran was shot and killed during a police raid on January 18 while officers were clearing campgrounds occupied by environmental demonstrators protesting the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, known as "Cop City."
The decision not to press charges is based on claims that Teran fired the first shot at a state trooper after officers fired "less lethal" pepperball rounds. In response, six troopers opened fire, resulting in Teran's death. An autopsy revealed Teran had at least 57 gunshot wounds, including in the hands, torso, legs, and head.
Despite an independent autopsy conducted by the family suggesting that Teran's hands were raised during the shooting, the DeKalb County autopsy cited variables in Teran's movement and the shooters' actions as hindrances to drawing definitive conclusions about their body position.
The DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office had previously classified Teran's death as a homicide. However, District Attorney Christian deemed the use of lethal force by the Georgia State Patrol "objectively reasonable" given the circumstances. The Georgia Attorney General's Office is currently conducting its own investigation into the incident.
Teran's untimely death is a harrowing reminder of law police's disproportionate use of force and violence, particularly against those advocating for change. This incident underscores the dire need to critically examine the foundations of our current system, which often fails to deliver justice, especially for marginalized communities.