At least nine police officers on Thursday shot a man walking on an interstate highway in Nashville, a use of lethal force that left the man's family "in shock."
Landon Eastep, 37, was agitated and carried a box cutter in his left hand, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
Aaron said police tried for about half an hour to de-escalate the situation, but nine officers from three agencies fired as Eastep quickly pulled an unknown "silver, shiny cylindrical object" from his right pocket.
Aaron said he did not know what the object was, but said it was not a firearm.
"I was not aware that anything was wrong," Samantha McGill-Barge, Eastep's sister-in-law, told the Daily Beast. "He loved my sister and my kids a lot, and as far as I know, he was a good guy. It's a very unfortunate situation. I'm in shock."
In an online fundraiser for Eastep's widow entitled Help get Justice for Landon Eastep, McGill-Barge claimed he had been "murdered by several officers".
"This man only had a box cutter and had already shown it to the officers before they killed him cold-blooded," she said. "He was shot for no good reason at all and he did not deserve to die."
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk vowed to take "any appropriate action" once the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has completed its investigation. He also promised to release the TBI report in its entirety.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper said he was "troubled" and added, "We will learn from this horrific event and continue to do everything we can to prevent similar incidents in the future."
Video of the meeting obtained by WKRN-TV showed officers around Eastep, who had their backs to the berm between the northbound and southbound lanes. The footage showed officers opening fire after Eastep removed his right hand from his pocket.
Eastep was hit several times, Aaron said. No officers were injured.
Interstate 65 was closed in both directions for a time during the meeting and afterwards as agencies remained on the scene, including TBI.
The agency said a highway patrol soldier first spotted Eastep around 6 p.m. 14.00 on the northbound shoulder of the interstate at mile marker 76. An off-duty officer from another jurisdiction, then others, arrived soon.
"The trooper tried to negotiate with Eastep, and soon an officer in the Mount Juliet Police Department also stopped, along with back-up officers from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department," and several highway patrol soldiers, the statement said.
It said negotiations continued for about 30 minutes before at least nine officers fired. Eastep died on the spot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report