ATLANTA - Atlanta Police have released the first four video clips recorded from officer-worn cameras during a joint operation attempting to clear the site of the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center on Jan. 18. The videos do not show the actual encounter between Georgia State Patrol troopers and an activist inside a tent, as GSP does not wear body cameras except in certain situations. However, APD hopes the videos do offer some insight into what happened that day.
Four consecutive shots could be heard in the video being fired followed by a slit-second pause, and then a barrage of bullets of different calibers could be heard being fired. The timestamp in the upper right hand corner of the videos showed 9:01:20 when the shooting started. Not everyone in the large law enforcement task force immediately knew what happened due to the thick brush. The body cameras pick up the radio transmission during the operation.
First officer: "Green tent… 100 meters from the crate… we have a big range of fireworks… we have a male screaming… not sure… are all officers okay?"
Second officer: "Got one officer down."
At least one of those bullets was fired from a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm legally purchased by 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said. Forensic evidence suggests one of the bullets fired from the gun ended up wounding a trooper in the "pelvic-area." The trooper was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
First officer: "Unit advise, do we have an active shooter?"
Second officer: "Negative, no active shooter. Subject is barricaded in a tent."
Atlanta police can be seen moving closer to the tent and taking up positions outside.
In the background, you can hear officers working to get an all-terrain vehicle into the woods to remove the wounded trooper. The sound of siren wailing in the background and the distinctive sound of a motorized off-road vehicle could soon be heard approaching. Officers would eventually be able to pull the trooper from the area. Medics would rush the trooper to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Officers would turn their attention back to the green tent.
"Police! If you are in the green tent come out with your hands up," an officer could be heard saying.
Officers could be heard yelling warnings about their K-9 unit. They then announce they will be using less-lethal agents into the building.
"From personal experience, you'd hear coughing if they were in there," one officer could be heard after 10 pepper balls were fired into the tent.
The officers move in, beginning to cough as they approach the tent. They find the person inside had escaped out the tent.
The officers would later find Teran dead.
Officer seen clearing future site of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center
A portion of the video clips shows officers coming across two empty tents prior to the trooper being shot.
"This is the Atlanta Police Department, if you are inside the red tent, please step out of the tent," an officer could be heard yelling.
The officer cautiously approach the red and green tents, which are side-by-side in the woods.
"Occupants in the red or green tent, please step outside, this is the Atlanta Police Department," an officer yelled.
One officer approaches and is able to drop the red tent to find no one inside. As the officers move in, they begin cutting into the green tent looking for weapons and other hazards.
One officer comes across a backpack that was at the camp. The video shows him searching through its contents. Inside was a blow torch, measuring tape, nylon rope, a cell phone, and other gear.
The officers took all the belongings into evidence.
Activists called for release of body camera video
The so-called "Stop Cop City" activists have questioned the police version of events and called for the release of law enforcement body camera footage. According to the GBI, the officers who were near the incident at the time of shooting were not wearing body worn cameras. Although the shooting is not captured on bodycam, there is bodycam footage of the aftermath, the GBI has said.
The Georgia State Patrol, as a rule, does not have body-worn cameras recording encounters, only dash cams. The exception for troopers is on Jekyll Island and at the Georgia Capitol.
The GBI said Teran did not comply with officers’ orders, leading to an "exchange of gunfire," first striking a Georgia State Trooper, who survived.
His body was released to the family who hired their own forensic investigators to perform an autopsy.
"Multiple officers riddled his body with bullets," said Brian Spears, who also represents the family.
Activists have been occupying the site in tents and tree houses to stop the construction of the training center because they believe the forest space is critical – and the training center will further what they call cops’ "urban warfare tactics" toward the public.
Also Tuesday, FOX 5 learned that 30 officers who would normally patrol the streets of Atlanta would be assigned to guard the now-cleared property 24-hours a day to make sure there are no further trespassing incidents.
Atlanta Police say more videos are forthcoming.
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