Police shot Manuel Esteban Paez Teran - an environmeantal activist protesting the building of a training facility near Atlanta dubbed "Cop City" - at least 13 times, according to the results of a private autopsy shared by the activist's family lawyers on Friday.
Police officials have said Teran, who was known as "Tortuguita," was killed on Jan. 18 after the activist shot and wounded a state trooper during an operation to clear protesters near the training facility in Atlanta's forested outskirts.
"Manny was a kind person who helped anyone who needed it. He was a pacifist. They say he shot a police officer. I do not believe it," said his mother, Belkis Teran, in a press release. "I do not understand why they will not even privately explain to us what happened to our child."
The family said they have contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the agency investigating the shooting, but haven't received a response.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said the shooting was not recorded on body cameras. Police said the gun used in the shooting against the trooper was purchased by Teran in September 2020. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that a special prosecutor will be assigned to review the case, but critics are calling for an independent investigation.
"Any evidence, even if it is only an audio recording, will help the family piece together what happened on the morning of January 18th," said family attorney Brian Spears. "This information is critical, and it is being withheld."
In a statement on its website, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it is "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."
Investigations typically take about 60-90 days to complete, police said, and investigators are reviewing the actions of all individuals connected to this incident, including Teran and law enforcement. Police are reviewing body camera videos, witness statements and forensic evidence.
Family lawyers plan to release additional findings on the private autopsy and demand access to the investigation during a press conference scheduled for Monday.
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