Police Captain In Mark Capps SWAT Killing Moved To Parks Dept.

It was four months ago this week that 4-time Grammy-winning country engineer Mark Capps was gunned down in the front room of his house by Metro Nashville police. Friends, family, co-workers, and the country music community continue to search for answers in the killing, while internal affairs and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continue to claim they are actively investigating the matter.

Though investigations are ongoing, the public claims from Metro Nashville Police are that the department did nothing wrong in the killing. But when considering the circumstances of how Mark Capps died, these claims not only go against the department’s stated policies and Tennessee statutes, they may also not conform with internal moves made within the department after the shooting.

While meeting with the editorial board of The Tennessean in March, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake told the paper that SWAT Officers who responded to the home of Mark Capps acted within department policy when he was fatally shot.

“I can’t say I’m happy or not, but I’m never satisfied by someone losing their life,” Drake told The Tennessean. “I look at each individual interaction and try and see how we can be better.” But Chief Drake continued to claim no department policies were violated.

Saving Country Music has learned that the Captain who presided over the SWAT team on January 5th when Mark Capps was killed has been reassigned. Captain Greg Davis had previously been over the Special Operations Division (SOD), SWAT, the Special Response Team (SRT), and Aviation until April 1st when the department went through some internal restructuring. Greg Davis is now the Police Captain over the Parks Department.

Though Metro Nashville Police did not announce the transfer publicly at the time, they have since verified the move to Saving Country Music. And though no reason for the transfer of Capt. Davis has been given publicly, sources inside Metro Nashville Police have said that it had to do with the handling of the Mark Capps incident, at least in part. The move from the Special Operations Division (SOD) to the Parks Department was perceived by certain individuals within Metro Nashville Police as a de facto demotion.

Sources inside Metro Nashville also say the move was part of a broader reshuffling of personnel and policy changes, perhaps as preemptive action ahead of any findings by the TBI investigating the Mark Capps killing, and eventually the TBI turning those findings over to the Davidson County District Attorneys Office for potential action.

The internal moves came just three days after the Covenant School Shooting in Nashville on March 27th, which could have complicating any public announcement or release of the information about the moves and the reassignment of Captain Greg Davis. A March 31st press release from Metro Nashville Police about promotions and appointments makes no mention of the Capt. Davis transfer.

“I don’t really know if there is a reason per se,” Public Affairs Officer Kristin Mumford tells Saving Country Music about the Greg Davis transfer. “It’s not unusual for this police department to make transfers and promotions. In fact, we pride ourselves in not letting people just get stuck in the same job for years. So we move people around with some frequency. Prior to Greg being over the division, he was in the sexual violence division. And prior to that, he was investigations. So he’s had an interesting career path.”

As for why the transfer was not announced publicly, why it was not noted in the personnel file for Captain Greg Davis obtained by Saving Country Music, or on if it had anything to do with the Mark Capps killing, Kristin Mumford says, “That investigation is ongoing, so that will be part of that review.”

Mark Capps was killed on January 5th after the SWAT team was deployed to his house to serve warrants against him over claims that he kidnapping and threatened his wife and stepdaughter, and held them in the house against their will. Instead of attempting to serve the warrants directly or asking Capps to give himself up, the SWAT team attempted a “covert operation” where they tried to place an explosive device on his front door. When Capps came to the door, allegedly with a gun in his hand, SWAT Officer Ashley Kendall Coon opened fire, shooting Mark Capps three times with his AR rifle. Capps was pronounced dead on the scene.

The group “Friends of Mark Capps” has launched a petition, and is seeking justice for Capps. One of the questions the groups wants answered is why the situation wasn’t handled with de-escalation tactics that could have saved Mark’s life. Police say they were aware of cameras in use on the property, so why were the police officers ordered to the front door, putting both the officers and Mark Capps in harm’s way as opposed to attempting to negotiate with him to leave the house peacefully? Capps had no prior criminal record, police had not been called to the house previously, and Capps never fired a shot. Presumably, Captain Greg Davis presided over the fatal “covert operation” decision.

Saving Country Music has also confirmed that SWAT Officer Ashley Kendall Coon was placed on three days administrative leave after the killing of Mark Capps, though that information was never shared with the public, and does not appear in his personnel file.

Saving Country Music has also obtained the personnel file for TBI Officer Noah Silva. It was revealed on January 18th that despite Metro Nashville Police not mentioning him at all, Officer Silva had been in the house of Mark Capps as the boyfriend of the stepdaughter when the alleged threats and kidnapping occurred. How Officer Silva was able to escape while the wife and stepdaughter were allegedly being held against their will has not been explained, nor is there any explanation at to why Officer Silva did not report the incident when he left the house and reported for duty at TBI headquarters the morning of the killing.

“We can confirm an off-duty TBI police officer (whose primary job is to provide security at TBI offices) was at the home as a guest of the step-daughter referenced in media reports the night prior to Friday afternoon’s shooting,” TBI spokesperson Susan Niland told Saving Country Music. “He left the home before the two women reported their concerns to Metro Police. The TBI notified District Attorney General Glenn Funk of this information when it surfaced and he requested we remain in an investigative capacity in this ongoing case.”

Along with being a current TBI Officer, Noah Silva also had Top Secret/SCI-Poly clearance as a former officer for the National Security Agency, or NSA. His involvement in the incident has led individuals in the “Friends of Mark Capps” group to ask why the TBI is allowed to continue the investigation when it could cause a conflict of interest. All officer-involved shootings are immediately handled by the TBI, but some are wondering if due to the circumstances, the case should be escalated to the United States Justice Department.

The autopsy report for Mark Capps was released on April 17th, confirming that his death was a homicide, and that Capps was shot three times in his left shoulder area. Toxicology confirms that at the time of his death, Capps had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, and also has prescription Xanax and Hydrocodone in his system.

Diagram of the gun shots wounds from the Mark Capps autopsy

The Backstory of the Incident

According to Metro Nashville Police, the incident began when Mark Capps allegedly went on a tirade at his home in Nashville around 3 AM on January 5th, throwing things in the house and ultimately holding both his 60-year-old wife and 23-year-old stepdaughter at gunpoint, allegedly telling them that if they tried to call anyone or flee the home, he would kill them. When Capps eventually fell asleep around sunup, the two women were said to have escaped with their pets to the Hermitage police precinct where they explained to police what happened.

Four total warrants were issued for Mark Capps, two for aggravated assault and two for kidnapping, and a request for a protection order was also processed. Since Capps had allegedly used a gun to threaten the two women along with the presence of other firearms in the residence, Metro Nashville Police chose to use the SWAT team.

The incident occurred at a time when Mark Capps was said to be under great duress. Mark’s brother Jeffery Allen Capps had died two days prior to the incident. Mark Capps worked as the sound engineer for Grand Ole Opry members The Isaacs. On December 15th, Becky Isaacs was hit head-on in a two car collision in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and hospitalized. This resulted in the Isaacs having to cancel numerous tour dates, which put Mark Capps out of work right around the Holidays.

Mark Capps was a prolific studio engineer with engineering credits tracing back to 1991. Alabama, The [Dixie] Chicks, The Mavericks, Brooks & Dunn, Clay Walker, and Elizabeth Cook are some of the many artists Capps worked with in his career. Capps was also a co-winner of Grammy Awards for Best Polka Album in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. His father was legendary Grand Ole Opry guitar player Jimmy Capps, also known as “The Man In Back.”

Saving Country Music has reached out to the Nashville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police for comment, as well as the Davidson County District Attorneys Office. Neither has responded.

Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for continuing coverage of the killing of Mark Capps.

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