There will be no criminal charges filed against any of the law enforcement officers involved in the incident, according to a release issued by the Office of District Attorney General Glenn Funk on Friday.
The 37-year-old man was shot and killed by multiple law enforcement officers on Interstate 65 in Nashville after at least 30 minutes of tense negotiations on Jan. 27, 2022.
The release from the DA’s office states, “After a review of the TBI investigation, and in particular the body camera footage of the scene at the time of the shooting, District Attorney Glenn Funk has concluded that Landon Eastep’s actions were designed to cause officers to perceive an immediate threat and his actions did cause officers to reasonably perceive an immediate threat. Therefore, all shots fired were legally justified.”
The incident began when a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper saw Eastep sitting on the side of I-65 near Hogan Road and stopped to offer him a ride off the interstate. Metro police said after a brief interaction, Eastep produced a box-cutter and the trooper called for assistance.
An off-duty Mt. Juliet police officer stopped to help and began trying to de-escalate the situation through dialogue with Eastep, according to Metro police.
For 30 minutes, Metro police said officers tried to negotiate with Eastep as he held the box cutter in his left hand and kept his right hand in his pocket.
In bodycam video released by MNPD, the Mt. Juliet officer can be heard begging Eastep, saying “let me help you” and “Landon, don’t let me go home with this today, brother, please.”
Multiple officers pleaded with Eastep to end the situation and begged him to “let’s just go home.” The Mt. Juliet officer said “we don’t want to hurt you, we don’t want to shoot you and you don’t want to hurt us, right? I got kids to go to, I got a family to go home to…but God put me here so I could help you out today and you know it!”
Nine officers, including six Metro officers, two THP troopers and the off-duty Mt. Juliet officer, opened fire when Eastep pulled a “shiny silver cylindrical object” from his pocket that Metro police later reported was not a firearm.
Six months later, the autopsy revealed Eastep was shot 12 times. Some of those wounds were to the front of his body and others were on the back.
Following the shooting, Metro Police Chief Drake initially directed that Officer Brian Murphy be decommissioned. Murphy, a 25-year veteran with MNPD, had been identified as the person who fired the final two shots from a rifle after Eastep had already hit the ground.
Officer Murphy returned to the force on April 12, 2022.
The other Metro police officers who fired their guns were identified as:
- Sargeant Steve Carrick — 8-year MNPD veteran
- Officer Justin Pinkelton — 25-year MNPD veteran
- Officer Sean Williams — 17-year MNPD veteran
- Officer Edin Plancic — 6-year MNPD veteran
- Officer James Kidd — Joined the department last February
The Tennessee Highway Patrol identified the troopers involved as Trooper Reggie Edge and Sergeant Charles Achinger. Both were placed on routine discretionary leave with pay.
After an internal investigation by the THP, both returned to full duty status on Feb. 28, 2022.
In February, Eastep’s wife, Chelesy, told News 2 that a mental health professional should’ve been called to the scene within minutes.
“Within the first 10 minutes, somebody should have called crisis. Somebody should have had a professional out there who knew how to handle somebody that was going through a mental crisis. There were so many options that could have been taken, that weren’t. And to me, that’s unacceptable,” Eastep explained. “I just feel like it was way too much. I feel like there were a bunch of steps that were skipped, and I feel like there is no reason for him to be dead today.”