Friend of protester killed by troopers at site of proposed police facility defends them

ATLANTA — A friend of the protester who was killed during a raid targeting the controversial site of an Atlanta police training facility is defending his friend as someone who was not violent.

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Channel 2′s Tom Jones talked to Matthew Johnson, who knew the person that protesters called Tortuguita. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation identified them Thursday as Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, 26.

Tortuguita was shot and killed by Georgia State Patrol troopers after investigators said they shot a trooper without warning. The trooper, who isn’t being identified due to safety concerns, remains hospitalized with injuries to his pelvis.

Johnson said there was no evidence that Teran was the aggressor.

“There were people who were sitting in trees that were forcibly taken out with chemical weapons, and they were labeled domestic terrorists,” Johnson said.

Mike Register, the Director of the GBI, said the protesters are not peaceful, but were violent on many occasions.

“Arson, attacking citizens, shooting police officers, using explosives,” Register said at a news conference Wednesday.


Johnson said it’s hard for him to believe that Teran was violent toward anyone.

“My position is that there is no evidence to establish that this person had any history of violence,” Johnson said.

The GBI said 25 campsites were removed from the woods during the multi-agency clearing operation, which started yesterday morning.

Agents found mortar-style fireworks, multiple edged weapons, pellet rifles, gas masks and a blow torch at the campsites. Three people cooperated with agents and were allowed to leave the site without facing charges.

Seven more protesters were arrested overnight and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass. None of those arrested were from the metro Atlanta area.

The people arrested have been identified as

  • Geoffrey Parsons, age 20, of Maryland
  • Spencer Bernard Liberto, age 29, of Pennsylvania
  • Matthew Ernest Macar, age 30, of Pennsylvania
  • Timothy Murphy, age 25, of Maine
  • Christopher Reynolds, age 31, of Ohio
  • Teresa Shen, age 31, of New York
  • Sarah Wasilewski, age 35, of Pennsylvania

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