Salem OR April 14 2019 The family of a man gunned down by a security guard outside a Salem restaurant is suing his attacker — and the security company that employed him — for $10 million.
The family’s attorney said the negligence of Homefront Security Services and the actions of their employee Gregory Capwell led to the death of 25-year-old Jose Francisco Moreno Jr., according to the wrongful death complaint filed Thursday in Marion County Circuit Court.
Capwell was arrested and convicted of murdering Moreno.
Responding to an early morning call July 22, 2017, Salem police officers found Moreno bleeding on the parking lot blacktop outside a Denny’s restaurant.
Nearby was Capwell, 34, of Salem, an armed security guard who claimed he shot Moreno in self-defense.
But after reviewing witness statements and security camera footage, Capwell was charged with murder.
The evidence revealed that Capwell confronted Moreno and two other men as they attempted to dine at the restaurant on 3155 Ryan Drive SE.
Capwell told the men they were trespassing. When they questioned Capwell’s authority, called him a “rent-a-cop” and asked to speak with the restaurant manager, he tried to grab Moreno and place him under a citizen’s arrest.
Capwell then tased Moreno, despite being warned that Moreno had a pacemaker.
The men tried to leave but Capwell said they had “lost the right” to go. He yanked Moreno out of the car and the pair physically struggled, according to court records.
Capwell shot Moreno twice in the chest with his Glock handgun.
According to prosecutors, the shooting was not the first time Capwell was suspected of acting aggressively and overstepping boundaries while working as a security guard.
A motion filed in the murder case against him painted him as a man who tried to give the impression that he was law enforcement, who altered his vehicle to make it look like a police cruiser and who referred to himself as “Officer Capwell,” “Sgt. Capwell” and “Commander Capwell” to both civilians and actual law enforcement.
And he had a more than decade-long history of using excessive force against people, inserting himself into police investigations, unlawfully detaining people and Tasering handcuffed people.
Police officers would routinely respond to locations where Capwell had detained someone and immediately remove their handcuffs and release them because no crime had been committed.
“I’ve lost track of how many police officers told me, ‘As soon as I heard a security guard shot someone, I knew it was Capwell,'” prosecutor Matthew Kemmy said during court proceedings.
Capwell previously was arrested on fourth-degree assault, reckless driving and reckless endangerment charges in 2011. He was convicted of reckless driving, sentenced to two years probation and ordered to attend anger-management classes.
He also was convicted of reckless driving in 2004 and of reckless driving, speeding and speed racing on a highway in 2009.
Capwell was acquitted of the assault and reckless endangerment charges. Had he been convicted, he may have been unable to be licensed to carry a gun as a security guard.
It took a Marion County jury less than 10 minutes of deliberation to unanimously convict him of murder.
Marion County Judge David Leith sentenced Capwell to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Before delivering his sentence, Leith called the fatal shooting a “predictable tragedy.”
The predictability of the tragedy was the driving force behind the wrongful death lawsuit filed against Homefront Security Services and Capwell.
“A life was unnecessarily lost due to a company allowing Mr. Capwell to work as a security guard with knowledge of his prior transgressions,” the family’s attorney Brian Lathen said in a statement.
He said Moreno’s death resulted from their negligence.
In the complaint, he accused Homefront management of failing to properly train Capwell and of negligently hiring him when they knew — or should’ve known — that he had a history of acting aggressively, overstepping boundaries, impersonating a police officer, using excessive force, lying to officers and being arrested for assault and reckless driving.
He also said Capwell acted negligently by failing to call police and allow them to handle presumed conflicts. Instead, he took matters into his own hands, Lathen said.
Following Capwell’s arrest, Homefront Security management did not respond to multiple requests for comments.
The company’s website was shut down around the time of the shooting, but their services are described online at other websites as having “professional courteous well-trained officers both armed and unarmed to accommodate our clients’ needs.”
The company’s president is Chad Perlin of Salem, according to Oregon Secretary of State records. He registered the business in 2014 and renewed the registration in 2018.
The website for the company remains down. Perlin did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The family’s lawsuit claims company management failed to properly supervise and allowed him to carry a gun and Taser when they should have known he was “unfit to carry a weapon.”
Additionally, they accused management of failing properly investigate prior complaints about Capwell, which would have led to his removal as a security guard.
The lawsuit requested $10,000 in funeral expenses, $2.5 million for loss of income and $7.5 million for loss of companionship and society.