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Man shot 12 times by police on I-65 in Nashville, autopsy reveals

Landon Eastep was shot 12 times earlier this year by officers from multiple law enforcement agencies on Interstate 65 in Nashville, according to a newly-released autopsy.

What began with a state trooper checking on Eastep, 37, who was sitting on a guardrail along I-65, ended with nine officers from three agencies fatally shooting him, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

The shooting drew wide scrutiny and sparked outcry from leaders and advocates across the city, fueling controversy over de-escalation tactics and how police handle mental health crises. An attorney representing Eastep’s wife called his death an “execution.”

Nashville’s mobile crisis response team, designed to support people in mental health crises, was not on the scene.

The TBI investigation into the shooting is still active and ongoing, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

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Autopsy findings

Eastep was hit by 12 bullets, two of which were grazing wounds, from his shoulders down to his left leg, according to the autopsy.

Four of the bullets that struck him traveled front to back, while five entered through Eastep’s back. When he was initially struck by the gunfire, Eastep fell to the ground, landing on his side with his back toward some of the officers, body camera footage revealed.

The bullets fractured numerous bones and two vertebrae, according to the report. A gunshot wound to the chest hit both his lungs, heart and aorta.

Eastep also had minor blunt force trauma to his body. The medical examiner noted several bruises, cuts and scrapes.

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How the shooting unfolded

Eastep was holding a box cutter as officers negotiated with him for around 30 minutes, TBI said. The interstate was shut down in both directions.

Partial body camera footage released by the Metro Nashville Police Department showed several officers from three agencies surrounding Eastep with weapons drawn. A helicopter also could be seen circling overhead.

Eastep appeared to keep his hand in his right pocket while holding the box cutter in his left. Officers began shooting when Eastep pulled an unidentified “metal cylindrical object” from his pocket and “adjusted his stance,” TBI said.

The object was not a firearm, according to Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron. Eastep was pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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Watch the body camera footage released by Nashville police

Warning: This video may be disturbing for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised, especially for children and sensitive viewers.

Who were the officers?

Officials identified the nine law enforcement officers who fired their weapons as:

  • Sgt. Steven Carrick (MNPD)

  • Officer James Kidd (MNPD)

  • Officer Brian Murphy (MNPD)

  • Officer Justin Pinkelton (MNPD)

  • Officer Edin Plancic (MNPD)

  • Officer Sean Williams (MNPD)

  • Sgt. Charles Achinger (THP)

  • Trooper Reggie Edge (THP)

  • Cpl. Fabjan Llukaj (off-duty, Mt. Juliet Police Department)

Nashville police said Murphy fired the final two shots at the scene.

Within hours of the incident, Murphy was decommissioned and stripped of his police authority, pending an investigation of his actions. The other five MNPD officers were placed on routine administrative assignment as a result of the shooting, the department said in February.

Kidd, Pinkelton, Plancic and Williams resumed patrol duties after their administrative assignments ended on Feb. 4, MNPD spokesperson Brooke Reese said Tuesday. Murphy was reinstated on April 12. Carrick had accepted a federal position before the shooting and resigned in February to take it, Reese said.

DECOMISSIONED: Nashville cop stripped of authority after interstate police killing of Landon Eastep

As of February, THP said Edge and Achinger were on routine administrative leave with pay.

Llukaj was also on routine administrative and wellness leave, Mt. Juliet Police Department Capt. Tyler Chandler said in February. Llukaj was later reinstated to full-duty, but has since voluntarily left that post. He remains on staff as a reserve police officer, Chandler said Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday if Edge, Achinger or Llukaj were still on leave. Spokespeople for both THP and the Mt. Juliet Police Department did not immediately return emails requesting the officers’ statuses.

An internal review of the shooting by MNPD is still open, pending the results of the TBI investigation, Reese said. An independent investigation was also being led by Nashville’s Community Oversight Board.

Find reporter Rachel Wegner at rawegner@tennessean.com or on Twitter @rachelannwegner.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville man shot 12 times by police on I-65, autopsy shows

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