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GBI: Ballistic analysis shows projectile recovered from trooper’s wound matches gun in protester's possession

Here is the latest on the case.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has released information regarding the forensic ballistic analysis after a trooper was injured in a shooting at the future site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center earlier this week.

Authorities accused Manuel Esteban Paez Teran of firing at the trooper, leaving him hurt. Paez Teran was killed during the incident.

The GBI said said the projectile recovered from the trooper's wound matches Paez Teran’s handgun.

Here are more details about the case.

The shooting

The shooting happened Jan. 18. According to the GBI, law enforcement officers were moving through the property where the future training facility will be located when authorities found a person in a tent inside of the woods. The area is referred to as "Cop City" by protesters.

The GBI claims officers gave verbal commands to the person who was later identified as Paez Teran. They said Paez Teran did not comply and allegedly shot the trooper. They said other officers returned fire; the face sheet from GBI said that "multiple GSP Troopers discharged their firearms, striking Teran."

The bureau said they recovered a handgun and shell casings at the scene, which they later described the weapons as a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm. 

Credit: The GBI
The GBI released a photo of the handgun that they said was in Manuel Esteban Paez Teran’s possession when a state trooper was shot at the site of the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. Forensic ballistic analysis confirms that the projectile recovered from the trooper’s wound matches Teran’s handgun, according to the GBI

"Forensic ballistic analysis has confirmed that the projectile recovered from the trooper’s wound matches Paez Teran’s handgun," GBI said in an updated news release. "Other preliminary information released in this case is consistent with the investigation so far."

The GBI said the trooper was shot at before Paez Teran was killed by return fire from authorities. The protesters contend it isn't clear who fired the first shot, or if a protester fired a shot at all.

Background on 'Cop City'

There have been several clashes between the protesters and police or other city service employees in recent months over the future City of Atlanta Public Safety Center, which was approved by the City Council in 2021. The Atlanta Police Foundation will build the 85-acre, $90 million facility under a lease agreement with the city. The foundation says it will preserve 180 additional acres at the site for green space.

The protesters have opposed the facility on environmental and historical grounds, saying it would decimate one of the largest preserved forest areas in the city and desecrate historically Native American land of the Muscogee Creek people, who once lived in the woods and called it the Weelaunee Forest before being displaced by white settlers in the early 19th Century.

They also oppose it on the grounds that the land was once the site of the Old Prison Farm, a jail complex that was billed during its operation in the mid-20th Century as an "Honor Farm" where prisoners farmed the land as a "dignified" means of imprisonment, a practice which has since been scrutinized for its profit generation and exploitation of unpaid labor.

The arrests 

Others were arrested as law enforcement worked to clear out the protest encampment following Wednesday's shooting. 

Seven people face domestic terrorism charges after being arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday, jail records showed. They have since been released.

Each person was charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass, according to jail records. Three others were also charged with aggravated assault upon a public safety officer.  

Previous people taken into custody

The arrests and charges mirror those made a month ago in which five people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism after clearing operations at the site.

Since then, two additional people were arrested and added to the same case file in DeKalb County, bringing the total number of people facing domestic terrorism charges for protest involvement at the site to at least 14.

At least six of the previously arrested people have been granted bond, with part of their conditions including staying away from the site and ceasing any contact with the "Defend the Atlanta Forest" movement.

The protesters have had semi-permanent tree-sitting encampments for more than a year in the forested area where the Atlanta Police Foundation intends to build the training facility.

The trooper injured

The trooper was taken to Grady Hospital to be treated after being shot. At last check, was in the ICU following a second surgery.

11Alive's Tracey Amick-Peer learned Thursday afternoon he had been able to write a short note overnight that he was having difficulty breathing. Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Chris Wright said he has a long road ahead.

GSP said in a statement they would not be naming the trooper "because disclosure would compromise security against criminal or terroristic acts due to retaliation."

More on protester killed

"Defend the Atlanta Forest" protesters have publicly said that Paez Teran goes by they/it pronouns. 

The brother of the 26-year-old told 11Alive the news of their death has been devastating. 

"It was your article that I saw that someone was killed and I wanted to call them because I was worried. I was worried," he said. "I was worried that one of Manny's friends was killed and I was worried that they was sad, I wasn't ready for it to be them."

Paez Teran's brother asked for his own identity be hidden because of the circumstances of his sibling's death. 

He added that the family is still in disbelief by what has occurred.

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