ATLANTA – A Georgia State Patrol trooper was shot and a protestor was killed during a confrontation near the site of the controversial “Cop City” Atlanta Police Department training facility on Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Public Safety confirmed.
The shooting happened during a “clearing operation” at the site at around 10 a.m., Georgia Department of Public Safety Colonel Chris Wright said at a press conference at Grady Memorial Hospital.
At some point, Wright says that a protestor fired a shot, hitting the officer. Officers returned fire, killing the suspect. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Michael Register said a protestor opened fire first. It happened while law enforcement were clearing on area in the woods.
“An individual, without warning, shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper,” Register said. “Other law enforcement personnel returned fire in self-defense and evacuated the trooper to a safe area. The individual who fired upon law enforcement and shot the trooper was killed in the exchange of gunfire.”
Georgia State Patrol investigate near the site of an alleged shooting on Jan. 18, 2023. (FOX 5 Atlanta)
Wright said the injured trooper is out of surgery and in stable condition in ICU. He was shot in the “pelvic-area” and he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Officials have not released the identity of the trooper or the person killed in the incident.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have responded in DeKalb County where the investigation is happening.
Law enforcement outside Grady Hospital in Atlanta. (FOX 5 Atlanta)
Register said for people were detained. He called the law enforcement response to protests “complex” and said some people involved in the alleged criminal activity are organized, while others are acting as individuals.
“They’re endangering the community and the citizens around this area,” Register said.
In an email to FOX 5 Atlanta, the organization Stop Cop City ATL said, “it is not clear” if the Georgia State Patrol trooper was injured by “police fire, a protestor, or a police induced action.”
“Police have repeatedly raided the protest encampments in Weelaunee Forest, harassed and detained neighbors walking through the park, and attacked protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets,” the statement said, in part. “During past raids, police have consistently escalated violent tactics on protestors (sic) who were sitting in trees or standing in a public park. On multiple occasions, they have cut tree limbs and rope out from under tree sitters in a fashion likely to cause serious injury or death. Today’s raid began with numerous armed police shutting down a public road and pointing guns into the park.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp responded to news of the state trooper’s injury. He’s taken a hard stance against Cop City protestors.
GEORGIA GOV. RESPONDS TO ‘COP CITY’ PROTESTS
“As our thoughts remain with him and his family, our resolve also remains steadfast and strong to see criminals brought to justice,” Kemp said.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said officials are supporting law enforcement.
“DeKalb County Government offers its thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for the Georgia State Patrol officer shot today in DeKalb County,” Thurmond said in a statement. “DeKalb County will continue to cooperate with and provide support to the multi-jurisdictional law enforcement task force charged with maintaining peace and security.”
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What is Cop City?
The wooded area of southeast Atlanta has been the site of several protests since 2021 when the city voted in favor of building the facility near the site of the former Atlanta prison farm after weeks of protests. The training center would include a shooting range, classrooms, a mock village, an emergency vehicle driving course, stables for police horses, and a “burn building” for firefighters to practice putting out fires.
Groups that oppose the law enforcement and first responder training facility call it an expansion of the police state that threatens the Atlanta forest.
The 85-acre property is owned by the city of Atlanta but is located just outside the city limits in unincorporated DeKalb County, and includes a former state prison farm.
Opponents of the training center have been protesting for months by building platforms in surrounding trees and camping out at the site. They say that the $90 million project, which would be built by the Atlanta Police Foundation, involves cutting down so many trees that it would be environmentally damaging. They also oppose investing so much money in what they call “Cop City,” which they say will be used to practice “urban warfare.”
PROTESTORS CONDEMN POLICE TACTICS FOLLOWING DOMESTIC TERRORISM ARRESTS NEAR ‘COP CITY’ SITE
Multiple people have been arrested at the site for charges that include domestic terrorism. The latest arrests happened in December, when police arrested five people while attempting to remove the barricades blocking access to the site.
In that instance, officials say firefighters and police officers were attacked with rocks and incendiary weapons.
Earlier this year, Gov. Brian Kemp called the group part of a group of “militant activists who have committed similar acts of domestic terrorism across the country,” saying that he would bring the “full force down on those trying to bring about a radical agenda through violent means.”
Groups providing legal support to the protestors say that they were unarmed and not violent, arguing that the police have been engaging in a campaign to attack the movement.