9 Officers Open Fire on Man Standing Along Highway

Police say Landon Eastep pulled out something they feared was a weapon
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2022 3:40 PM CST
9 Officers Open Fire on Man Standing Along Highway
Officers talk to Landon Eastep along Interstate 65 in Tennessee on Thursday, as shown on police body camera footage.   (Metropolitan Nashville Police Department via AP)

Negotiations to try to coax a man with mental issues off the shoulder of an interstate in Tennessee ended with nine officers opening fire. Landon Eastep, 37, was killed Thursday after he pulled a "shiny cylindrical object" from his pocket while standing along Interstate 65, said police, who added that he also had a box cutter, NBC reports. Six Nashville police officers, two state troopers, and an off-duty officer from Mount Juliet Police fired. "He was not bothering anyone," a lawyer for Eastep's wife said, per the Tennessean. "He was not obstructing or impeding traffic."

The Nashville officer who police said fired the final two shots with a rifle has been stripped of his police authority pending the outcome of the investigation. The other five Nashville officers involved were placed on routine administrative leave, per the Tennessean. The encounter began about 2pm when a trooper driving by saw Eastep on the shoulder south of Nashville. At one point, he "pushed away" from the trooper and showed the box-cutter, police said. City officers were dispatched, and the off-duty Mount Juliet officer passing by stopped. Thirty minutes into the conversation, police said, Eastep pulled out the shiny object. "Given his very abrupt movement, kind of aiming something toward the officers, the officers fired," a Nashville police spokesman said.

Chelsey Eastep said her husband suffered from mental health issues but was "very loving" and "not a bad guy." She said he sometimes took walks to clear his head, as he did Thursday. "He was crying out for help, and his cries went completely unanswered," she said. Nashville's mayor said he found the killing disturbing. NAACP Nashville's president said police have shot people before on mental health calls. "I feel that the community has been completely ignored," Sheryl Guinn said. Chelsey Eastep added, "I want people to remember that Landon didn't deserve this." (More police shooting stories.)

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