7 charged with domestic terrorism after Atlanta police training site shootout, person killed identified

An alleged protestor is detained after a Georgia state trooper was shot and a different protestor killed near the Southeast Atlanta site known as “Cop City” on Jan. 18. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Updated at 9:02 p.m.

Investigators on Thursday released the identity of the person who was shot and killed by law enforcement officers who were trying to clear protesters camping at the site of a planned Atlanta-area public safety training center that opponents have dubbed “Cop City.”

Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, 26, was shot and killed Wednesday morning, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Teran was inside a tent in the woods and did not comply with verbal commands from law enforcement officers trying to clear the area, the GBI has said.

When Teran shot and injured a state trooper, other law enforcement officers returned fire and killed Teran, the GBI has said.

Activists have questioned the police version of events and called for the release of law enforcement body camera footage. However, GBI public affairs director Nelly Miles informed WABE Thursday evening that there is no body camera footage of the incident.

Opponents of the training center have been protesting for over a year by building platforms in surrounding trees and camping out at the site. They say that the $90 million project, which would be built by the Atlanta Police Foundation, involves cutting down so many trees that it would be environmentally damaging. They also oppose investing so much money in what they call “Cop City,” which they say will be used to practice “urban warfare.”

Col. Chris Wright, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told reporters Wednesday that the injured trooper underwent surgery and was in intensive care. He told state lawmakers during a budget hearing Thursday that the trooper remained in intensive care and was scheduled to undergo another surgery Thursday morning.

The agency said in a news release that it would not release the name of the trooper involved in the shooting “because disclosure would compromise security against criminal or terroristic acts due to retaliation.”

The GBI said about 25 campsites were located and removed Wednesday and that mortar-style fireworks, edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks and a blow torch were recovered.

Seven people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass with other charges pending, the GBI said. They range in age from 20 to 34 years, and none of them are Georgia residents.

GBI Director Mike Register said Wednesday that people are “illegally occupying” the area and are committing acts that endanger the community, including arson and using explosives. The “clearing operation” was conducted in the same area where a handful of people were arrested last month and also charged with domestic terrorism. Authorities said at the time that firefighters and police officers were attacked with rocks and weapons as they removed barricades blocking entrances to the site.

The 85-acre (35-hectare) property is owned by the city of Atlanta but is located just outside the city limits in unincorporated DeKalb County, and includes a former state prison farm.