PORTLAND, Ore. — The wife of a man who was shot to death by a private security officer in the parking lot of a North Portland Lowe’s is suing the owner of the property and the security company who employed the man who shot her husband for $25 million.
The civil complaint, filed Oct. 14 on behalf of Freddy Nelson Jr., alleges that Logan Gimbel, the security guard employed with Cornerstone Security Group who shot and killed Nelson, was not properly certified to be an armed security guard, nor did he have the certification to carry a weapon.
According to the complaint, there was a personal dispute with someone from TMT Development Co. and D. Park Corporation, the owners of the land where the Lowe’s is located, and employers of the Cornerstone Security Group told the armed security to “be on the look out” for Nelson. The security guards were instructed to harass, follow and intimidate Nelson, according to the lawsuit.
On May 29, 2020, Nelson and his wife Kari Nelson went to Lowe’s. While they were inside the store, the complaint continues, Gimbel blocked in the Nelson’s car and told Nelson he was under arrest.
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Armed security guards have the same right as a private citizen to initiate an arrest in Oregon. Oregon law (ORS 133.225) dictates that: A private person may arrest another person for any crime committed in the presence of the private person if the private person has probable cause to believe the arrested person committed the crime. A private person making such an arrest shall, without unnecessary delay, take the arrested person before a magistrate or deliver the arrested person to a peace officer.
Oregon is also clear about the use of deadly force (ORS 161.219): "a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person unless the person reasonably believes that the other person is: committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or committing or attempting to commit a burglary in a dwelling or using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force against a person."
Nelson and his wife got into their car and Gimbel attempted to open the door, the complaint says, and when he couldn’t he pepper-sprayed the Nelsons through a cracked window.
It was at this time Gimbel moved and stood in front of the vehicle and told them not to move. The Nelsons complied but Gimbel fired four shots into the windshield, three of which struck Nelson.
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The complaint asserts that Cornerstone, TMT and D. Park were negligent in hiring Gimbel, knowing he was not fully certified to be an armed security guard. Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) found that Gimbel had taken the training to work as an armed guard in September 2020, but the state never received his application to be licensed to work with a gun.
The complaint goes on to assert that Cornerstone Security created an environment that encouraged the use of violence and failed to include meaningful de-escalation training to its employees.
The Nelsons' legal representation told OPB in July of 2021 that it is unclear why Nelson was approached by the guard at all.
“There was no physical altercation whatsoever on their part,” said attorney Tom D’Amore of the couple.
The same OPB article states that Nelson may have been banned from the property for selling drugs on it at one time, but it is still unclear, more than a year later, why Gimbel approached the Nelsons.
Kari Nelson is suing for a total of $25 million.