Family of Manuel Teran detail findings of independent autopsy, demand answers

Family of Manuel Teran sue over activist's death
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:02 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 12:35 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The family of Manuel Teran held a press conference Monday morning detailing the latest findings of an independent autopsy report.

The report suggests that Manuel, who was killed during a clearing operation near the site for the future Atlanta police training facility, was in a seated position, “cross-legged,” with their hands showing “exit wounds” in both palms at the time of their death.

“What did we learn from this autopsy? Manuel was shot in the head through his right eye, in his left upper chest, his legs, through the abdomen and several times through the palms,” their legal team said.

“Manuel was looking death in the face, hands raised, when killed,” said Brian Spears, an attorney for Teran’s family.

“I never thought that Manuel could die in a meditation position,” said Teran’s mother. “My heart is destroyed.”

“My child is a hero,” said Joel Paez, Teran’s father, calling the death an “assassination.”

The environmental activist was shot at least 13 times near the site for the future Atlanta police training facility on Jan.18, according to the independent autopsy results. A Georgia State Patrol trooper was seriously injured during the encounter.

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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has disclosed that Teran was the first to shoot and that troopers returned fire, killing Teran. The incident was not captured by body-worn cameras, as state troopers typically do not wear cameras.

A Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm handgun was found in the area of the shooting. Investigators tell Atlanta News First the projectile recovered from the injured trooper’s body matches the firearm believed to be in Teran’s possession at the time.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm(Atlanta News First)

The family has been demanding that investigators provide transparency in their investigation.

“The second autopsy is a snapshot of what happened, but it’s not the whole story. What we want is simple: For the GBI to meet with the family and release the full (autopsy) report,” attorneys said.

The GBI released this statement on Friday, March 10th:

The GBI is aware of media reports published today that made allegations concerning the officer involved shooting that occurred on January 18th. The GBI did not conduct Manuel Teran’s autopsy. The autopsy was done by the DeKalb Medical Examiners 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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