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Tennessee officers pleaded with man to drop box cutter before fatal shooting

Interstate-Man Shot
Posted at 1:09 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 16:10:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities in Tennessee say a man shot and killed by nine members of law enforcement on Interstate 65 Thursday did not have a gun on him when he pulled his hand out of his pocket during a standoff.

Within hours of the shooting, the Metro Nashville Police Department released body camera footage of what happened before 37-year-old Landon Eastep died.

According to the department, Eastep had the box cutter in his left hand and his right hand in his pocket while officers were negotiating with him in the lanes of I-65 north near Harding Place.

A trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol stopped to check on Eastep when he saw him on the shoulder of the interstate.

An off-duty Mt. Juliet Police officer driving with his family pulled over to help the trooper before backup law enforcement arrived at the scene.

"Look, I don't have a damn vest on, and I still stopped on the interstate because I want you to go home today," the Mt. Juliet Police officer was heard saying on body camera video. "I don't want you dead on the side of the interstate. Nobody wants that. These folks right here they've got kids. Look, I've got kids in the car, kids standing by. Don't give them that show, brother."

After talking for 30 minutes, police say Eastep made an abrupt motion and pulled his right hand out of his pocket while holding a "silver shiny cylindrical object" that Metro Nashville police have now said was not a firearm.

"C'mon, brother, just drop the knife, get your hand out your pocket," the Mt. Juliet officer is heard telling Eastep. "If that's a gun, what you've got in there, don't worry, we'll figure it out, we'll fix it! I'm not too worried about that right now. I'm worried about you. I'm worried about you, Landon. Come on, brother, just drop it. I know you can do it. I know you want to do the right thing here, and this is your chance."

Eastep is then seen on the body camera footage pulling his right hand out of his pocket and pointing an object at officers.

"Landon, come on, brother. Landon, please, brother, don't do it. No, no, no, no!"

Nine law enforcement officers then fired their weapons, killing Eastep. Six were Metro Nashville Police officers, two were THP troopers, and one was an off-duty Mt. Juliet Police officer.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is now handling the case.

This is the fifth officer-involved shooting the agency has investigated in 2022.

There were 55 in 2021, ten of which were in Metro Nashville.

According to police department spokesman Don Aaron, the MNPD will also be conducting an internal review of the shooting.

Aaron Cantrell and Bethany Davison at WTVF first reported this story.