In the past few days, the Atlanta Police Department has released its body camera footage and the audio accompanying it of the “clearing” of the forest in the potential Cop City location on Jan 18th. Much has been made of the comments anyone can hear over the footage. I’m not going to share it here because I’d rather you get that information from an outlet that you don’t see as outwardly opinion based. You can listen for yourself and draw your own conclusions. The GBI has also issued a subsequent statement indicating the investigation is ongoing. I can appreciate that. I’m not one to interrupt while good work is trying to be done. I would like to talk a bit here about that work and how it can be the final say.
A lot of folks refer to this work as ballistics- or even forensic analysis. I prefer the term ‘signatures’. I’m not a science-minded person, so this translates more easily for me. In investigating what happened in the forest that day, the GBI will need to reconstruct to a certain extent the scene and see where the bullets fly and land in hopes of determining who shot who and when.
This is also done following a roadway fatality. I learned this after my father’s best friend and business partner passed as a result of a head-on collision they were both involved in and I wrote about previously. Both lanes of traffic are stopped so that the scene can be reconstructed and analyzed as best they can on the spot based on tire marks and whatnot.
In both cases, this is done to investigate the injuries or fatalities by a trusted third party.
A little-known fact about me- I’m no gun nut, but I also don’t fear them. In fact, I find guns to be interesting machines. I grew up with a Daddy who loved to hunt- bow and gun. My love of big dogs comes from the pack for bird hunting my father kept when I was a child. The only thing the 75 lb black lab that I loved throughout my teen and young adult years LOVED more than sitting in my lap was hitting the water while my father sat in a duck blind. My father and I found skeet shooting to be a shared hobby because neither of us liked cleaning animals and I liked killing them even less. I can’t say I’m a great shot, but the time spent with my father wasn’t about that, after all.
Through our shared love of guns-mine more for shotguns than rifles or handguns (which are my husband’s preference), I learned that every gun has a “signature” in that it hits its projectile in a unique pattern only to it. While in the APD Citizens’ Police Academy, I learned that Atlanta has one of few (maybe a hand full) machines in the state that document and enter into a forensic database the individual signatures of weapons in crime scenes. The way a gun projects its projectile is similar to a fingerprint- it makes a discernable and documented pattern on that projectile that can be traced. Atlanta contributes to and analyzes their guns and projectile against this federal database.
This is painstaking work, and to see the database and the images therein was BY FAR the coolest part of the Citizens’ Police Academy class! The lab off of Donald Lee Hollowell (right around the corner from my home) also has the ability to recreate shootings through water, has a completely insulated interior gun range, and an individual room with the guns they use to recreate shootings. It’s kind of wild and cool at the same time.
As a personal aside- the people who do the crime lab work are desperately underpaid for this meaningful work. If Atlanta is looking to do some police budget reform that doesn’t involve violence, I’d start here and pay them at least twice what they’re currently making.
Now, this relates to the shooting of a Georgia State Trooper on Jan 18th in this way: the bullet that was lodged into that Trooper has a signature on it. That signature either belongs to the gun purchased under the name of Manual “Tortuguita” Teran or to one of the officers there on duty.
My question to the GBI is whose signature is on that bullet?