Nashville officer in shooting loses police power amid review

Jan 28, 2022, 8:33 AM | Updated: 7:30 pm
CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CHELESY, NOT CHELSEY - Defense attorney Joy Kimbrough, addresses...

CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO CHELESY, NOT CHELSEY - Defense attorney Joy Kimbrough, addresses the media outside the Nashville Metro Courthouse, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn, as Chelesy Eastep, third from left, is comforted. Authorities on the day before had pleaded with 37-year-old Landon Eastep to surrender while keeping him at gunpoint, but killed him when he pulled another shiny object from his pocket and pointed it at police as if ready to shoot. That object turned out not to be a gun. Kimbrough called the shooting a “firing squad execution.”(AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)

(AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville’s police chief stripped an officer of policing authority Friday after he fired the final two shots to end a fatal interstate highway standoff in which nine officers opened fire on a man holding a box cutter.

Authorities had pleaded during the traffic-stopping encounter with Landon Eastep to surrender Thursday while they kept their guns drawn, but fatally shot him when he pulled another shiny object from his pocket and pointed it at police as if ready to shoot. That object turned out not to be a gun.

“Mr. Eastep was executed yesterday afternoon,” said Joy Kimbrough, an attorney for the man’s wife Chelesy, who sobbed quietly during a Friday news conference surrounded by community advocates. “He was sitting on a guardrail. He was not bothering anyone.”

Kimbrough wondered how what should have been a welfare check turned into a situation in which Eastep is estimated to have been shot 30 times.

“I think they should have been trying to get him some sort of help,” she said. “I don’t think they should have been standing there with guns drawn ready to shoot given any opportunity.”

Within hours of the incident, police had released body camera footage and identified the officers involved in the shooting of the 37-year-old Nashville man along Interstate 65.

By Friday, Nashville Police Chief John Drake announced he had ordered the department to decommission — meaning to strip policing power — from Officer Brian Murphy while the shooting is reviewed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, or TBI.

Police say Murphy, a 25-year veteran of the force, fired the last two shots from a rifle. The other five Metro Nashville officers who fired were placed on routine administrative assignment, pending the TBI review.

Drake also ordered the department’s training academy to review the law enforcement response.

Academy staff will “thoroughly examine how our officers positioned themselves in this multi-agency response and as well review the tactics and procedures used in relation to those that we teach,” Drake said in a news release. “I am saddened by any loss of life, and I send my condolences to the Eastep family.”

The two state troopers involved are on routine discretionary leave with pay, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Bill Miller.

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk promised to take “any appropriate action” once the TBI had finished its investigation. Funk promised to release the TBI’s investigative report in full.

Police spokesperson Don Aaron cautioned that the images may be disturbing, but said they were released so that people could better understand what happened.

A Tennessee Highway Patrol officer initially saw Eastep sitting on a guardrail and stopped to offer him a ride. After a brief interaction, the man pulled a box cutter and the trooper called for backup, police said. Many other officers arrived, blocking traffic in both directions as a helicopter circled overhead.

“Whatever you’re worried about, we can fix it,” an off-duty Mount Juliet officer who stopped on his way home can be heard telling Eastep. “Let us get you some help though. This is not the answer.”

Later, Eastep could be seen putting his right hand in his pocket while still carrying the box cutter in his left.

“Come on brother, just drop the knife, get your hand out of your pocket. If that’s a gun what you’ve got in there, don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it out! We’ll fix it!” the officer said.

Aaron said officers tried to deescalate the situation for about 30 minutes.

Finally, later, Eastep pulled a “silver, shiny cylindrical object” from his pocket and pointed it at officers. The object, it turned out, was not a weapon, Aaron said.

Eastep was married to wife Chelesy early last year. In between sobs, the 30-year-old woman said her husband woke up “agitated” Thursday and decided to go for a walk to calm down. It was the last she saw of him.

“Landon was very loving, he always had me laughing,” she said. “He was all around exceptional, he tried to do anything he could to make people happy.”

NAACP of Nashville President Sheryl Guinn called the case “heartbreaking,” adding she wasn’t surprised after watching Black community members be ignored by other police shootings. Her organization was monitoring the case because even though Eastep was white, she said he was treated unfairly by law enforcement.

In September, Eastep’s landlord filed an eviction case against him, court documents show. The following month, his wife filled out a registration form for them to participate in Nashville’s judicially run diversion program that helps settle eviction cases during the COVID-19 pandemic using federal assistance.

“My husband Landon is a high risk for Covid19 due to him missing half a lung,” Chelesy wrote in the October application. “He got sick and lost his job and has had trouble finding work. We got behind on rent and haven’t been able to catch up.”


Reynolds reported from Louisville, Kentucky.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

11 turkey farm workers charged with cruelty caught on video

Eleven people working for one of the nation’s leading turkey producers have been charged with animal cruelty in Pennsylvania after state police said they were caught on video kicking, stomping and beating turkeys at several farms. The workers were responsible for capturing and crating turkeys destined for slaughter, Pennsylvania State Police said Thursday. They launched […]
7 hours ago
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks during the opening of the 41th ses...
Associated Press

UN rights body rejects Western bid to debate Xinjiang abuses

GENEVA (AP) — In a close diplomatic victory for China, the U.N.’s top human rights body on Thursday voted down a proposal from Britain, Turkey, the United States and other mostly Western countries to hold a debate on alleged rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. At the […]
7 hours ago
Hiring sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. The number of Americans fil...
Associated Press

US applications for jobless benefits increased last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the largest number in four months, but the labor market remains strong in the face of persistent inflation and a slowing overall U.S. economy. Jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 1 rose by 29,000 to 219,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chica...
Associated Press

Brittney Griner at ‘weakest moment’ in Russia, her wife says

WASHINGTON (AP) — WNBA star Brittney Griner is at her “absolute weakest moment in life right now” as she faces a hearing in Russia later this month for her appeal of a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession, Griner’s wife said in an interview aired Thursday. Cherelle Griner told CBS “This Morning” that her wife, […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Turkey appoints new ambassador to Israel as ties warm

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the state-run news agency reported Thursday, in the latest step between the two countries’ efforts toward normalizing ties. Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, a senior diplomat who had served as Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013, was named to the post, Anadolu […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: Dogs attack family in Tennessee, 2 children killed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two young children were killed and their mother was hospitalized after two family dogs attacked them at their home in Tennessee, officials said. The dogs attacked a 2-year-old girl, a 5-month-old boy and their mother Wednesday afternoon in the home located north of Memphis near Shelby Forest State Park, the Shelby […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Nashville officer in shooting loses police power amid review