Seminar to be held in response to shooting involving I-65 officer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) is hosting a webinar in response to the shooting of Landon Eastep on a Nashville freeway.
Shortly after Eastep, 37, was fatally shot by officers on I-65, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake led a review of procedures and tactics.
In a press release, Chief Drake was quoted as saying, “While the TBI conducts its investigation into the shooting on behalf of the District Attorney, I have directed that our Training Academy staff thoroughly review the how our agents have positioned themselves in this multi-agency response and thus review the tactics and procedures used versus those we teach. This department regularly reviews critical incidents and work on this has begun. I am saddened by any loss of life and send my condolences to the Eastep family.
Chief Drake also announced that the co-response pilot program, which pairs mental health clinicians with select officers, will expand to include officers in Central and Midtown Hill.
“It’s traumatic to see images like this played out over and over again,” said Shawn Whitsell, co-chair of the Criminal Justice Task Force with NOAH. “I felt like there were other options to use than shooting this man and shooting him so many times. I kept thinking, where is the humanity?
Whitsell explained that when he first learned of the shooting, he had a hard time going to see how it all unfolded. When he finally looked, he immediately thought of the help that might have been there, to help defuse the situation.
When asked if the incident would have ended differently if a mental health professional had been called in to help, he immediately answered “yes”.
Hours after the shooting, Metro Police released body camera footage of the incident. In it, you can hear an off-duty Mt. Juliet officer trying to calm Eastep down, as he repeated “Landon, come on brother.” Let me help you.” According to ministry records, this officer had completed 13 hours of training, focused on de-escalating situations involving mental health.
Whitsell praised this officer’s actions, however, he explained that sometimes officers need help too.
“I don’t think just relying on the police to do that is going to be the answer. We need people who are professionals who can step up and step in, who have real training to do this type of work,” Whitsell said.
NOAH hopes to launch a new program this year called “Nashville HEALS,” for Health Engagement and Liasion Services. Whitsell explained that the goal is “to send a mental health professional and a doctor to people who have mental health issues.”
Whitsell told News 2 that mental health is a “complicated issue” that will require action from everyone in the community to resolve. He explained that often in an emergency people believe the police are the only choice when there are other services residents can call in addition to the police.
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On Thursday, the NOAH Criminal Justice Task Force and the Behavioral Health Foundation will host a free meeting
webinar, “A Community Response to the Mental Health Crisis: From CAHOOTS to Nashville HEALS”,
at 6:30 p.m. The webinar will take place Zoom, where you can register, and will also be held live on the NOAH Facebook page.