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1 officer decommissioned, 5 others on administrative duty amid probe into fatal shooting on Nashville highway

Five members of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department were placed on administrative assignment and a sixth has been decommissioned after the fatal Tuesday shooting of a man on the side of a highway, Police Chief John Drake announced Friday. Drake said nine law enforcement officials, including a sergeant, fired at 37-year-old Landon Eastep.

Officer Brian Murphy, a 25-year veteran of the department, lost his police authority pending a review of the shooting. According to Drake, he fired the last two shots at Eastep. 

The five others placed on routine administrative assignment were identified by Drake as Officer Justin Pinkelton, a 25-year veteran; Officer Sean Williams, a 17-year veteran; Officer Edin Plancic, a 6-year veteran; Officer James Kidd, who joined the department last February; and Sergeant Steven Carrick, an 8-year veteran.

A still from body camera video released by Nashville police show officers surrounding a man later identified as Landon Eastep on I-65 on January 27, 2022. Metro Nashville Police Department

Two Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers and a Mt. Juliet officer also fired their weapons, Drake said. 

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting, Drake said. "This department regularly reviews critical incidents, and the work on this one has begun. I am saddened by any loss of life, and I send my condolences to the Eastep family."

What happened

Nashville police officers responded Thursday to a "Code 5000" — which means personnel in serious danger — after Eastep allegedly pulled a boxcutter on a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper on the side of an interstate, Drake said. Before the Nashville officers arrived, an off-duty officer from Mt. Juliet stopped to help the trooper and attempted to talk to Eastep.

A video released by the department said the Mt. Juliet officer attempted to speak with Eastep for approximately 30 minutes. At the time, Eastep was holding the box cutter in his left hand and had his right hand in his pocket, the video said. 

After the Nashville officers arrived, nine law enforcement personnel in total were engaging with Eastep when he drew an object from his pocket and "took a stance as if it was a firearm," Drake said. Body camera footage included in the video appeared to show Eastep pull his hand out of his pocket and point it at an officer in the moments before the shooting. 

Officers fired at Eastep, killing him. The object was later determined to be a metal cylindrical object, Drake said. 

None of the officers were injured in the incident.

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