Landon Eastep was shot and killed by officers Thursday after he was found walking along Tennessee Interstate 65 North. The man was carrying a box cutter and nine officers moved to shoot him when he pulled an unknown silver object out of his coat pocket. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident to determine what happened.
The shooting was captured on body camera footage and according to reports, it happened around 2 p.m. north of Old Hickory Boulevard outside of Nashville. Police tried to deescalate the situation for a half an hour before the shooting.
Officers were called to the scene after a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol noticed Eastep sitting on the highway’s guardrail and stopped to check on him. When the trooper tried to talk to Landon Eastep, the Tennessee man pushed away from him and pulled out a box cutter. The trooper later called for backup.
Police from three different agencies arrived at the interstate, including an off-duty Mt. Juliet officer who had been driving along with his family. That officer can be heard on bodycam footage trying to reason with Eastep.
He said, “C’mon brother, just drop the knife, get your hand out your pocket. If that’s a gun, what you’ve go 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. C’mon, 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.”
There were six officers from Metro Nashville Police and two THP troopers.
Landon Eastep is then seen on bodycam footage pulling a silver object out of his right pocket and pointing it at the officers. This caused the officers to shoot him. It is unclear what the object was, but MNPD’s Don Aaron later confirmed that the object was not a firearm.
The six officers who fired have been put on administrative leave pending an investigation. Officials said that a taser was on standby during the scene, but Aaron confirmed no tasers were used.
During the standoff and investigation, both southbound and northbound routes of Interstate 65 were closed. Reports say that roads are now open.
Since the shooting, many people have expressed their outrage over the killing of Landon Eastep. Some believe that officers didn’t need to shoot him if he was unarmed. One person took to Twitter and said, “Going to sleep with a heavy heart tonight. My prayers go out to the family of Landon Eastep, the man who was killed today by the TN Highway Patrol and others. Officers are supposed to protect and serve. These today clearly fell short of that. What a horrible day in our city.”
Another person asked why nine cops were so afraid of one man with a box cutter. He said, “Landon Eastep was shot and killed by police on a highway in Tennessee. He was carrying a box cutter. Seen a video from one angle. He was shot over a dozen times when he pulled something from his pocket. How are over twelve cops afraid of one man with a box cutter?”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Landon Eastep’s family. All money donated will go towards supporting Eastep’s wife and pay for burial expenses. The page said, “He has left behind his wife, and she has no means to financially care for herself during grieving, bury Landon, or even provide any services for her husband. He had no life insurance and no other means of care after life.”
So far, the page has raised $900 with a goal of $10,000.