Are police officers nowadays trained to do anything beside shooting and killing the second they feel threatened?
On Thursday, January 27, a man in Tennessee was shot and killed after nine police officers opened fire on him. They fired the shots at 37-year-old Landon Eastep when he removed what police described as a “shiny cylindrical object” from his pocket.
According to reports from NBC News, the encounter began at around 2 p.m., when a state trooper saw Eastep on the shoulder of Interstate 65 south of Nashville. The trooper stopped and talked with him “with the goal of getting the guy off the interstate,” Don Aaron, a spokesman with the Metro Nashville Police Department, said during a news conference.
As they approached the trooper’s car, Aaton claims Eastep “pushed away” from the officer and produced a box cutter. That’s when an off-duty officer from the Mount Juliet Police Department who was driving on the interstate stopped and tried to help deescalate the confrontation. At the same time, several officers from the Metro police department were dispatched to the scene.
Aaron went on to say that the Mount Juliet officer largely led the discussion with Eastep, which lasted approximately 30 minutes. Still, after that conversation, Aaron said it wasn’t clear why the man was walking on the interstate.
Then, the situation escalated.
“Around the 2:30, as the officers continued talking, he pulled a shiny silver cylindrical object” from his pocket, Aaron said. “Given his very abrupt movement, kind of aiming something toward the officers, the officers fired.”
According to Aaron, six officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department, two state troopers, and the Mount Juliet officer all fired their weapons. Eastep was soon pronounced dead at a local hospital.
While Eastep was reportedly in possession of a box cutter, Aaron said that he didn’t know what the metal object he pulled out of his pocket was, though it wasn’t a gun.
The officers fired “in defense of themselves not knowing what potential threat could have been in that right hand as it quickly emerged out of the pocket,” Aaron said.
Following this incident, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is independently trying to determine the series of events that led to the fatal shooting, conducting interviews, and collecting evidence to determine the next steps.