Gunshot residue test indicates Atlanta 'forest defender' fired gun before being shot by police

A test found there was gunshot residue on the hands of a protester accused of shooting a police officer in a forest south of Atlanta back in January. To appreciate why this story is significant, you probably need to go through all of the back and forth in this case that has been taking place for the last three months.


For more than a year, protesters have been attempting to block construction of a police training facility in a forested area south of Atlanta. The most dramatic moment for this year-long protest movement came in January when a multi-agency force entered the forest to remove protesters so construction could proceed. A police officer was shot by a protester named Manuel Esteban Paez Teran and in return police opened fire on the protester, killing him. The police officer was rushed to the hospital and survived but has never been identified.

From the moment the shooting happened, the “forest defenders” claimed that Teran, known to his friends as Tortuguita, would never have fired a gun at a police officer because he was a committed pacifist. They suggested that police had opened fire on Tortuguita without provocation, striking one of their own officers with friendly fire.

There were problems with this version of events. For one, police recovered a gun and an unknown number of shell casings at the scene. And within days that gun was connected to the bullet removed from the state trooper who’d been shot. And then the Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed that the gun in question had been legally purchased in 2020 by Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.


That seemed like it would be the end of the protesters’ claims that Teran didn’t shoot anyone but strangely it wasn’t. At first, left leaning outlets writing about the story just omitted the facts about the gun and the bullet which struck the state trooper.

Claims that the trooper was shot by police crossfire resumed in earnest after the release of body cam video from other police officers in the forest that day (though they were nowhere near the shooting). And then an autopsy commissioned by the protester’s family was released which prompted another round of stories, some claiming Tortuguita had been shot while he had both hands raised. The suggestion was that he couldn’t have been holding a gun at the time. But that autopsy didn’t include any information about gunshot residue on his hands.

When local authorities released their own autopsy report a few days later it concluded that the exact position of the protester’s body at the time of the shooting could not be worked out based on the bullets that struck him. That autopsy also noted that gunshot residue was not visible on the protester’s hands, however a more detailed examination was being carried out.

One central question the autopsy leaves unanswered is whether there was forensic evidence proving, as authorities have claimed, that the activist, Manuel Esteban Paez “Tortuguita” Terán, fired a gun.

In the report, the examiner noted there was no visible gunpowder observed on Terán’s hands.

But the report also notes a test was performed to determine whether trace amounts of gunpowder residue were present and the results of that test are not included in the report. State investigators and the prosecutor assigned to the case declined to say what the results of the test were.


And that brings us back to yesterday when multiple reports indicated that the gunshot residue test had in fact found evidence Teran had fired a gun.

Testing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shows there were characteristics of gunshot residue on the hands of a protester who was shot and killed by troopers during a sweep around the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, according to a report released Tuesday.

Here’s the conclusion from the report itself which notes that the exact circumstances of how the residue got there can’t be determined by this test.

Despite the wording of the report, two forensic consultants told 11 Alive News that this indicates Teran fired the gun.

Two forensic consultants told 11Alive Tuesday that Georgia Bureau of Investigation testing shows environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran fired a gun before they were fatally shot by law enforcement earlier this year at the site of the Atlanta’s public safety training center…

Chris Robinson, who previously served as a firearms expert for the GBI and led the Atlanta Police Crime Lab, said the gunshot primer residue found during testing was a “significant amount.”

“The GBI stops at five (particles). That’s the threshold,” he said. “It’s a significant amount of gunshot residue. To me, that means (Paez Teran) fired the gun.”…

Jay Jarvis, who worked for three decades in the Georgia State Crime Lab, agreed that the test results were strong.

“I have no doubt that (Paez Teran) fired a shot,” said Jarvis, who owns Armuchee-based Arma Forensics. “With Teran being inside of a tent, the only way Teran could have got residue on the hands from another gun was if the person was inside the tent shooting.”


So once again I’m tempted to say this story of what happened in the forest that day is settled, but you never know. Just yesterday, the same day the gunshot residue report was released, Jacobin published a story titled, “Police Appear to Have Executed a Cop City Protester in Cold Blood.” And Sunday Steven Donziger visited the site of the shooting and proclaimed Teran a leader and an inspiration. An inspiration to do what exactly? All the leftists who love to talk about “stochastic terrorism” will suddenly forget all about that as environmentalists turn someone who shot a police officer into a martyr and a hero.

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