Georgia authorities decide to not indict state troopers.

Georgia authorities decide to not indict state troopers.
Manuel Esteban Terán, also known as Tortuguita, was shot 57 times by state authorities in January this year. According to examiners, he had his hands in the surrender position.

It was announced on Friday that authorities in Georgia will not bring charges to the state troopers involved in the shooting and killing of 26-year old student and activist, Manuel Esteban Teran. Despite serious evidence suggesting that initial reports from troopers were false, a 31-page report has been released by the District Attorney concluding that the officers had acted reasonably in the run up to the young persons death. 


Teran, known as Tortuguita, was killed inside a Stop Cop City encampment in Intrenchment Creek Park, southeast of Atlanta. They had been taking part in protests against the building of ‘Atlanta Public Safety Training Centre’ or Cop City. The project is incredibly controversial, though, increasingly invasive and worrying police practices are not new to Atlanta. Operation Shield, a city-wide camera and communication project that brings together a network of more than 12 800 private and public cameras to be monitored by police has recently made the city the nations most surveilled. 


The $90 million project is scheduled to be built on the Old Atlanta Prison Farm, an abandoned complex within the Weelaunee Forest, on about 100 acres of land. The land itself initially belonged to the Muskogee Creek Nation until 1830, where it was forcibly stolen during the enactment of the Indian Removal Act 1930. Construction will create “military grade training facilities”, supposedly with mock cities for ‘urban warfare’, it will be the “largest police training facility in the US”. Tortuguita and Stop Cop City protestors assembled on the land in order to disrupt it’s construction, operating on principles of anti-racism, environmentalism and opposing increasing police militarism. The project is set to be built near a predominantly black community, a demographic disproportionately policed, murdered and arrested by forces across the United States.


Tortuguita was shot by a Joint Task Force trying to evict them from the premises as they prepared to clear cut space for the project. Police officials initially claimed that upon entry, Tortuguita shot and hit a state trooper and officers returned fire. Though, after looking over body camera footage that, initially police statements claimed did not exist, it was revealed that the state trooper initially shot was actually by one of their own officers on the task force. Officials initially continued that Tortuguita had shot at officers, and therefore, his death was warranted. However, reports from DeKalb County Medical Examiners office contradict much of what has been stated by authorities. Although owning a 9mm pistol, Tortuguita had no gunpowder residue on his hands, further, the autopsy revealed that their hands were raised as they were shot likely in surrender. An astonishing 57 bullets were found in their head, torso, hands and legs. 


Concern regarding the free and fair nature of judicial processes in Georgia are mounting. We at impACT suggest that, with ample evidence and eyewitness presence, prosecutors must take all involved state troopers to court for the killing of Tortuguita. With the evidence publicised, it is difficult to see how the state troopers involved could not be indicted on at least manslaughter charges. Allowing for state troopers to kill protestors, with no reprecussions, is an incredibly dangerous precedent to be set, particularly as concern for oncoming climate crisis builds. 


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