Body-cam footage from several officers shows the tense moments that preceded nine Tennessee cops opening fire on a man on an interstate on Thursday.
The incident began after a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer came upon Landon Eastep, 37, sitting on a guardrail along the busy Interstate 65. According to police, the trooper, who has not been named, approached the man and offered him a ride home to get him off the highway. Eastep is said to have then pulled a box cutter and the officer stepped away and called for backup.
Before backup could arrive, James Kidd, an off-duty officer from Mt. Juliet who was heading home after his work shift, came upon the scene and joined the trooper in trying to talk down Eastep. As police officers arrived and continued speaking to Eastep, he “suddenly” pulled an unidentified “shiny, silver cylindrical object” out of his right pocket, Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said. Several other highway troopers and police soon joined in at the site.
Body-cam footage shows the Mt. Juliet officer trying for more than 30 minutes to persuade Eastep to drop the blade from his left hand and take his right hand out of his pocket. Meanwhile, footage from drivers at the scene showed officers carrying long guns moving closer to the distraught man.
The officer promised him several times he would not go to jail, that he wanted to help him, and that he would call an ambulance to get him the help he needed, the body-cam footage shows.
“Brother, drop the knife,” he pleaded at one point. “I don’t want to shoot you.”
WARNING: This video shows extremely graphic gun violence
Moments later, the body-cam footage appears to show Eastep reaching into his pocket and then taking a stance compatible with preparing to shoot a gun.
The next disturbing scene shows a hail of bullets as nine different officers opened fire and Eastep fell to the ground. Metro Nashville Police spokesperson Aaron said in a video posted on YouTube that the incident is under investigation, and officers involved are on administrative leave.
“Circumstances of this are unusual,” he said. “State trooper wanted to help give him a ride off the interstate for safety.”
In the department’s video, Aaron said the silver object Eastep pulled from his right pocket was “not a gun.”
Several hours after the shooting, Samantha McGill-Barge opened a GoFundMe drive asking for financial help to bury Eastep, who she says is her husband and who was “unjustly executed with over 20 shots in very close range.”