Activist killed in environment protest had hands in the air: Family
Manuel Paez Terán's family released the results of an independent autopsy after their son was tragically shot dead by Georgia law enforcement.
An environmental activist, 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, was shot and murdered on January 18 by the Georgia State Patrol, while he himself was protesting for months alongside others against the $90 million project to build an 85-acre, law enforcement training center in one of Georgia's forest lands.
In a related development, Terán's family said as they released results of an autopsy they commissioned that Manuel was sitting cross-legged with his hands in the air when he was shot.
The family of Manuel Paez Terán held a news conference in Decatur to announce the findings and said they were filing an open-records lawsuit to force Atlanta police to divulge further information about the killing of their son.
According to the family's attorneys, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has been investigating the shooting for nearly two months, has refused to release additional evidence to the family.
“Manuel was looking death in the face, hands raised when killed,” civil rights attorney Brian Spears said, citing the examination of the autopsy.
“We do not stand here today telling you that we know what happened. The second autopsy is a snapshot of what happened, but it is not the whole story. What we want is simple: GBI, meet with the family and release the investigative report,” the attorney added.
The Bureau claimed in a statement that it was barring "inappropriate publication of evidence" to protect the investigation's integrity.
The investigation bureau said no body camera or dash-cam film of the shooting exists, and ballistics data confirm that the injured trooper was shot with a bullet from a rifle legally purchased by Paez Terán in 2020.
Spears stated that the family requested a second autopsy after the DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office performed the first. The DeKalb County report has not been disclosed, so it is unclear whether it came to the same judgment that Paez Terán had his hands raised, palms facing inward, at the time of the shooting.
“Manuel loved the forest,” his grieving mother, Belkis Terán, said. “It gave them peace. They meditated there. The forest connected them with God. I never thought that Manuel could die in a meditation position.”
Paez Terán's body was torn up, shot at least a dozen times, and "many of the wound tracks within his body converge, combine, and intersect, rendering the ability to precisely establish each and every individual wound track very limited, if not impossible," according to the family's autopsy report.
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