Police release video showing 9 officers fatally shoot man on Tennessee interstate

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
·4 min read

One of nine officers who opened fire on a man on a Tennessee interstate Thursday has been stripped of his police powers pending a review of the incident, Nashville police said Friday.

Authorities released body camera video of a standoff on the interstate that ended when the nine fired their guns, killing a man accused of carrying a box cutter.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake ordered the decommissioning of police powers for Officer Brian Murphy, a 25-year department veteran, who fired the final two shots from a rifle, according to a statement.

Five other Nashville officers who opened fire were placed on administrative leave while the department's review of police positioning, tactics, and procedures got underway, the department said.

Related video: 21 police officers charged with murder or manslaughter in 2021

The deceased, identified as Landon Eastep, 37, of Nashville, did not possess a gun, but took out a cylindrical object from a pocket, prompting officers from three agencies to shoot at him on Interstate 65, Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron said in a video introducing the body camera footage.

Eastep was killed after he “took a stance as if he had a firearm,” Aaron said.

NBC News does not know what preceded the released video, which was edited by police and showed body camera footage from two officers.

The other shooters included two officers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and an off-duty officer with Mount Juliet police, Aaron said. The off-duty officer stopped to assist a state trooper and attempted to de-escalate the situation with Eastep for about 30 minutes, according to the spokesperson.

The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. when a state trooper saw Eastep sitting on a guardrail on the shoulder of the freeway.

“The trooper reported that he stopped and approached Eastep with the intent to give him a ride off the interstate,” Aaron said.

The trooper also said Eastep carried a box cutter, and Nashville police were called to assist, Aaron said.

In the video, police identify the off-duty officer, without naming him, as the officer who mostly spoke directly to Eastep. The off-duty officer repeatedly pleaded with him that officers didn’t want to hurt him and urged him to drop the knife and put his hands up, video showed. The officer also told Eastep he would not be going to jail.

“Whatever you’re worried about, we can fix it. Let’s get you some help, though,” the Mount Juliet officer says. “This is not the answer. You and I know it. You don’t want to hurt me. I know you don’t. I damn sure don’t want to hurt you.”

Police released more than four minutes of interaction between the officers and Eastep from one officer's body camera. That footage was from Officer James Kidd's body camera, police said. Another vantage point shows video from Officer Sean Williams' body camera, police said.

During moments in both videos, officers can be seen standing several feet away from Eastep with their guns drawn.

At one point in footage from Kidd’s body camera, the Mount Juliet officer says he has a family and children to go home to and is not wearing a vest.

“I want you to go home today. I don’t want you to end up dead on the side of the interstate. Nobody wants that,” the officer says.

Shortly before officers fire at Eastep, he appears to move toward officers, then makes a quick movement with both arms, according to the footage.

The Mount Juliet officer is heard saying, “Landon, please brother, don’t do it. Don’t do it. No, no, no.”

Aaron said Thursday it wasn’t clear why Eastep was on the interstate.

“Given his very abrupt movement, kind of aiming something toward the officers, the officers fired,” he said.

They did so “in defense of themselves not knowing what potential threat could have been in that right hand as it quickly emerged out of the pocket,” Aaron said.

No officers were injured during the incident.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is also investigating along with the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office.

"I am saddened by any loss of life, and I send my condolences to the Eastep family," Nashville Chief Drake said in today's statement.

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