DeKalb D.A. recuses herself from training center shooting case; GBI won’t
By John Ruch
DeKalb County’s district attorney has recused herself from the case of a protester killed by police at the Atlanta public safety training center site due to involvement in its policing. Meanwhile, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is not recusing itself, despite similar involvement.
Police officers on a joint task force raid on Jan. 18 killed Manuel Teran, also known as Tortuguita, allegedly after Teran shot and wounded a state trooper. The GBI is investigating the case and has said Teran bought the gun that shot the trooper and that it matches the bullet.
The GBI frequently investigates shootings by other police agencies and forwards the investigative findings to state or local prosecutors for a decision on any charges. In this case, that normally would be the DeKalb District Attorney’s office because the shooting site is in the county.
DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston said on Jan. 25 that she is voluntarily recusing herself and her office from the case due to its involvement in the task force. Instead, she is asking the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia to name an independent prosecutor.
“The overarching reasoning for my recusal is that it is simply the right thing to do,” said Boston in a press release. “It avoids the appearance of any impropriety and is consistent with the mission of my office and our efforts to instill community trust and confidence in our criminal justice system.”
Her office remains involved in prosecutions of protesters arrested at the site, including controversial domestic terrorism cases.
On the same day as Boston’s recusal, the GBI said in a press release that it will continue to be involved, citing its “track record of impartiality” in police shooting cases.
However, the GBI is also involved in policing the site, and Director Michael Register on the day of the shooting gave public commentary and speculation about the shooting, the training center and the protest movement.
A GBI agent may have been involved in an incident last year at the training center site where police detained a journalist and pressured him to delete his footage, which civil rights attorneys say was unconstitutional. The Atlanta Police Department is conducting an internal investigation of that incident, while the GBI said it would not.
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