Family of Manuel Teran speaks publicly for the first time since his death
The family is demanding that investigators provide transparency in their investigation.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The family of Manuel Teran, the activist killed at the site of Atlanta’s future public safety training center during what investigators describe as an exchange of gunfire, held a news conference Monday demanding that investigators provide transparency.
They criticized the domestic terrorism charges that other activists face, saying they were peacefully protesting with a sit-in protest. They also said witnesses are afraid to come forward and asked for any witnesses to Manuel’s death to please reach out to them.
Manuel’s mother, Belkin Teran, described Manuel as a scholar, environmentalist, and pacifist who was full of love for people, animals, and trees. She said Manuel had no malice and called the incident “horrific.” She said all Manuel wanted to do was protect the forest. She asked that the community heal together and remain peaceful.
Manuel’s father, Joel Paez, said he prays for the trooper who was shot and for the other protesters who were charged with domestic terrorism.
WATCH LIVE: Family of Manuel Teran speaks out
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation, state troopers were conducting a clearing operation on Jan. 18 near the training center site in DeKalb County when they came across Manuel and other activists camped in the woods.
A GBI spokeswoman said Manuel -- without warning -- shot a trooper and that other troopers returned fire, killing Manuel.
At last check, the trooper was still in the hospital.
The GBI later said the bullet that struck the trooper came from the gun found at the scene and that Manuel had purchased that gun in September 2020.
There’s no body-cam video of the encounter, according to the GBI. State troopers typically do not wear body cameras.
Manuel’s body was released to his family last Tuesday. According to a press release, a private autopsy also showed Manuel had been shot 13 times.
Manuel’s family is asking for a sit-down meeting with the GBI and for them to release any drone or helicopter video or any audio of the encounter that might exist to help explain what happened.
After the news conference, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation provided the following statement:
The GBI has received numerous questions since the January 18 officer involved shooting that ended with a seriously injured Georgia State Trooper and the death of Manuel Teran. We owe it to the Trooper and Teran to complete a thorough investigation. When we began our case, we contacted and spoke with Teran’s family. We intend to follow up with the family as the investigation progresses.
It has been stated that the GBI is investigating Teran, but agents are actually investigating the actions of all individuals connected to this incident, including Teran and law enforcement. This investigation consists of several types of evidence, including witness statements, forensic tests results, results of scene processing, and more. GBI agents are still in the process of reviewing numerous bodyworn camera videos connected to this incident. Any video recovered relating to the case, to include audio, will be analyzed as part of the investigative process.
We are not releasing any videos currently because agents are continuing to conduct key interviews and want to maintain the integrity of the investigation.
We ask for your patience while we go through the processes needed to complete the investigation. At that time, our case file will be given to a special prosecutor. When the criminal justice process is done, any member of the public can have a copy of the file by submitting an open records request for the full case file.
The GBI has a history of conducting many comprehensive use of force investigations. As you may be aware, the GBI has been called upon in the past to investigate officer involved shootings and other law enforcement related matters all over Georgia. The GBI has always conducted investigations with the highest expectation of quality and thoroughness. We will continue to serve the citizens of Georgia to the best of our ability, to include the investigation of the incident which occurred January 18th.
Our OIS investigations typically average about 60-90 days to complete. When this particular investigation is completed, as previously stated, it will be given to a special prosecutor to determine next steps.
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