Landon Eastep, 37, was killed after about 30 minutes of negotiations — during which traffic was halted along Interstate 65 near Nashville. Officers opened fire after he appeared “to adjust his stance and reach for what was later identified as a metal cylindrical object at his waist,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
It was later determined not to be a firearm.
The standoff began around 2 p.m. Eastep had been sitting on a guardrail on the shoulder of the interstate and a state trooper was attempting to get him to move off the highway, according to Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron.
“The individual kind of pushed away from the trooper and produced a box cutter,” Aaron said.
Officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and an off-duty Mount Juliet officer tried to deescalate the situation, shutting down part of the interstate, when the man pulled out “a shiny, silver, cylindrical object” from his right pocket, Aaron said.
Body camera video released by the MNPD showed officers repeatedly asking Eastep to surrender. “Please, Landon. Please!” one officer is heard saying before the man is seen lunging with both hands together toward the officers, who open fire with a volley of shots. The man died on the scene, the TBI said.
Aaron said one officer had a Taser “on standby,” but it was not used.
No officers were injured, according to the TBI, which is the lead agency investigating the incident.
The MNPD says the officer who fired the last two shots has been decommissioned pending the investigation, while the other five Nashville officers involved were put on “routine administrative assignment.”
An independent investigation of the incident is being conducted by the TBI on behalf of the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office.
An attorney for the family of Landon Eastep says they believe his fatal shooting by nine officers in Nashville was unjustified.
“This is what it looks like when you get trigger-happy,” attorney Joy Kimbrough said at a news conference, pointing at Eastep’s sobbing wife, Chelsea. “This is what it looks like when you don’t know how to deal with mental health issues. This is the result.”
Although he was in a restricted area of the interstate, Kimbrough said she saw no reason for officers to stop Eastep in the first place. “He was not obstructing traffic or impeding traffic,” she said.
Kimbrough acknowledged Eastep had “bipolar issues,” and Chelsea Eastep said her husband of less than a year seemed to be having problems Thursday. “He was agitated when he woke up, and he [went] out the door and took off walking. He left his phone at the house,” Eastep said Friday.
CNN’s Amanda Musa contributed to this report.