The police do not seem to have been provoked when they shot and killed Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.
At least that is what the evidence continues to indicate. In January, the 26-year-old forest defender known as “Tortuguita” was shot and killed by police as they were protesting the construction of a $90 million police training facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
New autopsy results from DeKalb County reveal that Teran had no gunpowder residue on their hands, contrary to police reports that said Teran had shot first at a state trooper, provoking officers to respond with gunfire.
Even more appalling, Teran suffered at least 57 gunshot wounds, from head to toe. Officers shot at least 57 bullets into a person who was protesting the construction of a militarized police facility and defending a forest. Fifty-seven. If there was a point to be made about our overinflated police budgets, the police made it themselves.
Teran’s family reportedly conducted an independent autopsy that found Teran’s hands were raised during the shooting; the DeKalb County autopsy could not definitely come to a conclusion on that fact.
Conveniently, there is no body camera footage of the event, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The revelations follow an ongoing display of proof for why residents might be skeptical of giving the police more and more money. In March, at least 35 people were indiscriminately detained at a music festival organized by Cop City protesters. Twenty-three were charged with domestic terrorism.
Those arrested were accused of participating in vandalism and arson at a construction site over a mile away from where the music festival was held. There was no substantial proof that any were involved in illegal activity; some people were outright denied bond on the grounds of “evidence” like wearing black or having mud on their shoes (they were all in a forest, where it had just rained).
While the police continue to prove why they warrant more scrutiny and less leeway, their behavior has yet to change; it is unclear how much more damage they will need to cause to inspire enough change to stop them from causing such damage at all.