Tortuguita publicly provided by facebook. Graphically enhanced for artistic purposes by author.
Preferred NameTortuguitaCityAtlanta
Other Names UsedManuel Esteban Paez TeránStateGA
Age26Gender IdentityNonbinary
RaceLatinoDate of Death01/18/2023

Crime Category: Police Shooting | Weapon Used: Gun

On January 18th, 2023, in Atlanta GA, Tortuguita was shot by police officers after he shot at them during a protest to clear out protesters occupying a proposed public safety training center.

Report: “Authorities said they killed a man who shot and injured a Georgia state trooper Wednesday morning as law enforcement officers tried to clear protesters from the site of a planned Atlanta-area public safety training center that activists have dubbed “Cop City.”

Officers from several law enforcement agencies were conducting an operation to clear people out of the area around 9 a.m. when someone fired at them and officers shot back in self-defense,

A trooper was shot in the abdomen and the man who shot at the officers was killed at the scene,”

Of the protesters, “People are “illegally occupying” the area and are committing criminal acts that endanger the community, including arson, beating people up, using explosives and setting booby traps that have the potential to seriously hurt someone, he [Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Mike Register] said.”

Report: “According to the report, a joint law enforcement operation was being conducted at the site on Jan. 18. During the operation, Georgia State troopers encountered Manuel Paez Teran, who they say refused to comply with their commands to come out of a tent.

The report goes on to say that the troopers used a “less lethal” device known as a pepperball launcher to get Teran to leave the tent. That’s when they say Teran responded by shooting four times with a 9mm pistol through the tent, striking and “seriously injuring a GSP trooper. Six troopers then returned fire, resulting in Teran’s death.”

NYT: “The report said that after the shooting stopped, “a loud boom sounded and white smoke came from the front area of the tent,” which troopers believed to be from an “improvised explosive device (IED) deployed by Terán.”

Activists have argued the official story provided by the police is a cover-up,

“Protesters have been skeptical of the official police account of the shooting. They remember Tortuguita as a peaceful person, and accuse the S.W.A.T. team of murder.

An organizer of the efforts to stop the project, Kamau Franklin, said in an interview Friday that Mr. Christian’s report only raises further questions about the events of Jan. 18. The new details “twist the story,” Mr. Franklin said, so that “Terán somehow now is some Rambo figure in a cloth tent, able to take multiple gunshots, fire back and launch an explosive device.” He called the claims “just outrageous.”

Location: 85-acre police training facility in the South River Forest, Atlanta, GA, at about 9:00 a.m.

Personal Information:

Tortuguita was Venezuelan and described as an ‘eco-anarchist.’

Wikipedia: Paez Terán was a 26-year-old Venezuelan environmental activist and graduate of Florida State University who had been active in several social justice movements, including Food Not Bombs, before joining the Stop Cop City forest defense actions in Atlanta. Paez Terán went by the nickname “Tortuguita”, which is Spanish for “Little Turtle.”

Last Public Update: 10/06/2023

Tortuguita publicly provided by facebook. Graphically enhanced for artistic purposes by author.

News Timeline: 01/18/2023 | 03/21/2023 | 04/14/2023 | 10/06/2023 | 10/06/2023

Factora, J. (2023, January 23). Queer “Cop City” Protestor Tortuguita Fatally Shot by Law Enforcement in Atlanta. Them.

Goldberg, S. K. (2023, March 21). Remembering Tortuguita, Indigenous queer and non-binary environmental activist and forest defender. Human Rights Campaign.

Keenan, S. (2023, October 6). No Charges for Troopers Who Killed ‘Cop City’ Protester Near Atlanta – Tortuguita. The New York Times.

Killing of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán – Tortuguita. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from

Lifsey, J., & Summers, Z. (2023, October 6). Fatal shooting of protester at site of Atlanta Public Safety Training Center justified, DA says – Tortuguita. Atlanta News First.

Miles, N. (2023, April 14). GBI Investigates Officer Involved Shooting Following Multi-Agency Operation near Site of Future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center – Tortuguita. Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Rico, R. J. (2023a, January 18). Man killed, trooper shot while ‘Cop City’ protesters cleared – Tortuguita. APnews.

Rico, R. J. (2023b, January 29). Protesters question circumstances surrounding ‘Stop Cop City’ activist’s death – Tortuguita. PBS.

11Alive. (2023, February 6). Tortuguita’s family seeks answers in activist’s death; law enforcement clears Atlanta training facil. Youtube.

Democracy Now! (2023, January 20). Atlanta Police Kill Forest Defender at Protest Encampment Near Proposed “Cop City” Training Center – Tortuguita. Youtube.

Fox 5 Atlanta. (2023, April 22). New calls for federal probe in Manuel Teran’s death – Tortuguita. Youtube.

NBC News. (2023, March 13). Attorney details autopsy of environmental activist fatally shot by Atlanta police – Tortuguita. Youtube.

Unicorn Riot. (2023, January 22). Atlanta Protests in Response to Police Killing Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran. Youtube.

Images are publicly available through public sources, personal posts, family members and information websites as well as stills from cited videos and news websites. Images are digitally enhanced for artistic purposes. All information is accurate to the best of the author’s knowledge at time of publishing. Updates will be made as needed.