A 37-year-old man with a box cutter was fatally shot by police after a half-hour standoff on a highway near Nashville, authorities said Thursday.
Landon Eastep was sitting on a guardrail on Interstate 65 Thursday afternoon when he was first approached by a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper who offered the man a ride, Metro Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said. He pushed the trooper away and pulled out the box cutter, Aaron said, attracting the attention of an off-duty police officer who was in a car with his family. At least three agencies responded, with officers surrounding the man in a semicircle, their guns drawn, according to videos posted to social media and traffic cameras of the startling scene that unfolded in front of lines of cars.
During the confrontation, the man, while holding the box cutter, seemed to pull from his pocket a shiny, cylindrical object, Aaron said. Nine officers shot at him, firing what sounded like dozens of shots.
“Once the shiny cylindrical object was seen, the officers fired, again, not knowing what that was,” Aaron told reporters at the scene. “They were firing in defense themselves, not knowing what potential threat could have been.”
The investigation “remains active and ongoing,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said, adding that the agency would not provide further comment or identify the officers. Findings will be shared with the district prosecutor, TBI said.
Eastep’s wife Chelesy Eastep was devastated, her sister Samantha McGill-Barge told The Washington Post, calling her brother-in-law “a loving husband, a great uncle, and kind hearted man.”
On a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family, McGill-Barge said Eastep “was shot for no good reason at all and he did not deserve to die.”
Hours after the shooting, northbound lanes of I-65 remained closed, according to the state department of transportation.
Capt. Tyler Chandler of Mt. Juliet police told reporters that an off-duty officer from his jurisdiction was driving home with his family when he saw the scene. He pulled over, helping de-escalate as his family called 911, Chandler said.
“A lot of people on this interstate saw this take place,” he said. “Our officer’s family saw this take place. And our officer had to go through what’s a very traumatic incident.”
“It’s very traumatic for them but also everyone that watched this,” Chandler added. “The man’s family. Our prayers and our hearts go out to everyone.”
More info on Bodycam: Interstate Standoff Ends In Shooting. Nashville, TN. January 27, 2022.
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