NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The widow of Mark Capps, a Grammy-award winning sound engineer who was killed in an officer-involved shooting, has filed a civil lawsuit claiming that law enforcement is responsible for his “unnecessary death.”
On Jan. 5, 54-year-old Mark was shot and killed by a SWAT officer at his Hermitage home as officers attempted to serve warrants after he held his wife, stepdaughter, her boyfriend, and the family dogs at gunpoint, threatening to kill them and any police officer who might respond.
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In their interviews with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), officers said that Mark had been pointing a gun directly at them, which caused a SWAT officer to fire, killing Mark.
Now, Tara Capps claims her spouse did not pose an imminent threat of harm to law enforcement and did not point a gun at officers, according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, the Capps’ estate claims that a Metro police SWAT sergeant had Mark’s phone number, but decided to begin an operation by breaching charges on the front and back doors, instead of calling him.
The lawsuit claims that Officer Ashley Coon fired shots just two seconds after the door first opened. Court filings detail that SWAT members then tied his hands and dragged him out of the house.
According to the lawsuit, SWAT officers did not find a gun in his hands, clothing or body. The only gun found near the 54-year-old was a pistol, which was tucked halfway under a rug on the other side of entryway — several feet away from Mark.
The family said Coon used “excessive and unreasonable force” by shooting and killing Mark when he did not pose an active threat of imminent harm. In addition, the suit claims Metro police caused the officer to kill Mark by “endangering the officer to a culture of fear, violence and impunity,” amongst other factors.
In a statement provided to News 2, the Capps estate said they’re seeking justice for “Mark’s unnecessary death at the hands of the Metro Nashville Police Department.”
This federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Mark Capps’s estate seeks justice for Mark’s unnecessary death at the hands of the Metro Nashville Police Department. As the complaint alleges, at the time Mark was shot and killed he was in the midst of a mental health emergency that had been aggravated by his brother’s recent death. Because of prior tragedies such as the Landon Eastep debacle, MNPD was well aware of the need to treat mental health emergencies differently. Indeed, MNPD had even implemented the “Partners in Care” program for just this purpose. However, rather than utilize a Partners in Care team MNPD sent a SWAT team in to deal with Mark – with predictable results. MNPD must now be held accountable to Mark’s family for this preventable disasterMark Capps estate’s legal team
News 2 reached out to the Metro Nashville Police Department, who then referred all comments to the legal department. Metro Director of Law Wally Dietz told News 2 the city has not been served and has not “had a chance to review and investigate the allegations. We have no comment.”