Police in Nashville, Tennessee, announced Friday that one of the nine policemen who shot and killed an unarmed man on a Tennessee highway Thursday has been deprived of his police powers until an investigation is complete.
When the nine officers shot their weapons, they killed a guy who had been suspected of carrying a box cutter during a confrontation.
In a statement, Chief John Drake of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Agency said that Officer Brian Murphy, a veteran of the department who fired the last two bullets from a rifle, had his police powers decommissioned.
According to the Nashville Police Agency, five additional officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave as the department conducts an investigation into police tactics and procedures.
Officers from three different agencies opened fire on Landon Eastep, 37, after he pulled a cylindrical device from his pocket on Interstate 65, according to a statement from Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron.
Eastep was shot down after he “took a stance as if he had a firearm,” Aaron said.
Police modified a video that showed body camera footage from two cops, but NBC News doesn’t know what came before the video that was published.
Aaron claimed the other shooters were two THP officers and an off-duty Mount Juliet police officer. After stopping to help a state trooper, the off-duty officer spent approximately 30 minutes trying to de-escalate the developed situation with Eastep, according to the spokeswoman.
Before 2 p.m., a state trooper saw Eastep seated on a railing on the freeway’s shoulder.
“The trooper reported that he stopped and approached Eastep with the intent to give him a ride off the interstate,” Aaron said.
As a result of the trooper’s report that Eastep had a box cutter on him, Aaron said that the Nashville Police Department was brought in to help.
Despite without identifying him, investigators identified the off-duty cop as the one who talked the most directly to Eastep in the video. According to footage, the off-duty cop begged the man to drop his knife and to put his hands up, saying that the police didn’t want to injure him. Eastep was assured by the police that he would not be arrested.
“Whatever you’re worried about, we can fix it. Let’s get you some help, though,” the Mount Juliet officer says. “This is not the answer. You and I know it. You don’t want to hurt me. I know you don’t. I damn sure don’t want to hurt you.”
Body camera footage of one of the officers’ interactions with Eastep has been published, and it includes more than four minutes of conversation between the two. Police have confirmed that the video was taken from the body camera of Officer James Kidd. Video from the body camera of officer Sean Williams may be seen from a different angle, authorities say.
Several steps away from Eastep, cops can be seen with their firearms drawn at various points in the two recordings.
Mount Juliet officer Kidd claims he has children and a family to go home to in video from Kidd’s body camera, and he is not wearing a vest at the time.
“I want you to go home today. I don’t want you to end up dead on the side of the interstate. Nobody wants that,” the officer says.
According to the footage, Eastep seems to walk near cops before making a sudden movement with both arms.
The Mount Juliet officer can be heard saying, “Landon, please brother, don’t do it. Don’t do it. No, no, no.”
As Aaron explained on Thursday, the reason for Eastep’s interstate location remains a mystery.
“Given his very abrupt movement, kind of aiming something toward the officers, the officers fired,” he said.
They did so “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.
The incident did not result in any police injuries.
In addition to the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, the TBI is also conducting an investigation.
“I am saddened by any loss of life, and I send my condolences to the Eastep family,” Nashville Chief Drake stated in today’s statement.