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Deadly force against a protester at Atlanta’s future public safety training center was ‘reasonable,’ special prosecutor says

<i>Cheney Orr/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A makeshift memorial for environmental activist Manuel Paez Teran
Cheney Orr/AFP/Getty Images
A makeshift memorial for environmental activist Manuel Paez Teran

By Devon M. Sayers and Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN) — The use of force against a protester killed at the future site of the Atlanta public safety center was reasonable, and no charges will be filed against the officers involved, a special prosecutor assigned to investigate the case said Friday.

Manual Paez Teran, who was camping in the woods in protest at the site dubbed “Cop City,” was shot and killed by state troopers conducting a clearing operation on January 18. The environmental activist was part of a group who believed the planned public safety facility would cause irreversible damage to forest land.

The case was investigated by special prosecutor George R. Christian, the district attorney pro tempore of the Mountain Circuit District Attorney’s Office.

Teran “refused to comply with the lawful commands of the Troopers” before the shooting took place, the special prosecutor said in a written statement Friday. Troopers “used a ‘less lethal’ device known as a pepperball launcher” to try to get Teran to leave a tent, Christian wrote.

Teran responded by shooting four times using a “9 mm pistol through the tent striking and seriously injuring a Georgia State Trooper,” Christian said. “Six Troopers returned fire resulting in the death of Teran.”

“The use of lethal (deadly) force by the Georgia State Patrol was objectively reasonable under the circumstances of the case,” the special prosecutor said. “No criminal charges will be brought against the Georgia State Patrol Troopers involved in the shooting of Manual Paez Teran.”

Teran family attorney Jeff Flipovits told CNN “the DA is not the final arbiter.”

“It’s disturbing that they won’t release the underlying material for the investigation. It’s an abuse of the open records act as far as I’m concerned,” the attorney said.

Flipovits said the family would be releasing a longer statement later Friday.

CNN has reached out to the Atlanta Police Department for comment.

The Georgia State Patrol declined to comment, referring questions to the district attorney’s office.

The planned 85-acre, $90 million training center has been the subject of debate for years.

Though the site is just outside Atlanta city limits, the plot of land is owned by the city, meaning residents around the site don’t have voting power for the leaders who approved it.

The Atlanta Police Foundation, which is helping to fund the project, has said it’s needed to help boost recruitment and morale among police and firefighters who have been using substandard or borrowed facilities.

Protesters have decried its potential environmental impact and possible role in the further militarization of police. Some demonstrators camped out at the site for months, clashing with police.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Nick Valencia and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

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