NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The family of Landon Eastep is demanding accountability for the officers who “murdered” their family member on Thursday.
By Matt Agorist / Free Thought Project
Eastep was apparently in the midst of a mental health emergency when he was surrounded by nearly a dozen cops who had no problem executing him in broad daylight.
On Thursday, police spotted a man sitting on a guardrail on Interstate 65 and less than 30 minutes after the first officer arrived, Eastep would be dead.
“I wasn’t aware there was anything wrong,” Samantha McGill-Barge, Eastep’s sister-in-law, told The Daily Beast, adding that Eastep’s now-widow was in contact with a lawyer but had no plans to take legal action. The two had dated for nearly four years and been married just shy of a year, McGill-Barge said.
“He loved my sister and my kids very much and, to my knowledge, was a good guy. It’s a very unfortunate situation. I’m in shock. I was at home with my kids when I found out,” she said.
“Eastep was unjustly executed with over 20 shots in very close rage by Metro Nashville officers, and THP,” McGill-Barge wrote on the GoFundMe Page for her deceased brother-in-law.
“This man had only a box cutter and had already shown it to officers before they killed him in cold blood. Landon was sitting on the side of the guard rail, bothering no one when a THP had stopped and tried to talk him into leaving the guardrail and going with him.”
According to a report from the Daily Beast, the incident unfolded as follows:
In a press briefing, Nashville Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer was traveling along the interstate on Thursday afternoon when he noticed Eastep sitting on the guardrail.
When the trooper stopped and spoke to Eastep, trying to get him off the highway, the man pulled out a box cutter, Aaron said. An off-duty Mt. Juliet police officer, who was traveling home with his family, saw what was happening and stopped.
For nearly half an hour, the officers attempted to deescalate but more and more cops continued to arrive. Eventually, there are over a dozen cops surrounding Eastep, many of them have guns drawn — no tasers. There is absolutely no way to deescalate a situation involving a mentally ill person in a crisis by surrounding him with a dozen guns. Yet cops kept creeping up on him in a seeming attempt to provoke him.
Bystander video captured what happened next as Eastep spent his last moments alive watching his executioners slowly surround him. As Eastep stood there, harming no one, two officer began approaching him with what appeared to be less than lethal shotguns. As they crept around the side of Eastep, he took his hand out of his pocket and officers opened fire — “fearing for their lives” as 15 of them surrounded a man holding a box cutter.
During the press conference, Aaron claimed that Eastep “suddenly” pulled an unidentified “shiny, silver cylindrical object” out of his right pocket.
“Once the shiny cylindrical object was seen, the officers fired. Not knowing what that was, the officers were firing in defense of themselves, not knowing what potential threat could have been in that right hand as it quickly emerged out of his pocket,” said Aaron.