CORRECTION: KPD officer Robert Capouellez remains in serious condition this afternoon at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. The hospital erroneously told some Knoxville media that he'd been released.
An off-duty Knoxville Police Department officer who was injured while trying to break up a Cumberland Avenue brawl involving a number of University of Tennessee football players had been working as an officer for less than two years, his supervisors said Friday.
Robert Capouellez, 24, sustained a head injury. He remains in serious condition this afternoon at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
"He's an all-around great person," said friend Adam Hopper, a former KPD officer who worked with Capouellez before retiring to start his own business.
Capouellez, who is unmarried, is a former U.S. Marine Corps combat engineer and a hockey fan, Hopper said.
Capt. Don Jones said that Capouellez began working for KPD in August 2008 and normally patrols the Fort Sanders area during the 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift.
"He's a good officer," Jones said. "He's been an asset to the department. He works hard for us."
While Capouellez hasn't worked long enough to have earned any major awards or commendations, he has made his fair share of DUI and drug arrests, Jones said.
"He's a really good street officer," Jones said. "He's got a nose for criminal activity, and he tends to find it. He makes good traffic stops, and he's inclusive when he's talking to folks."
Another officer who was assaulted during the Friday morning melee was UT Police Department Cpl. Brian Greenlee, who has been with the agency since 2006, said UT spokeswoman Rebekah Winkler. Greenlee was allegedly punched by 19-year-old Darren Myles Jr., a sophomore safety who authorities said ran from the scene and was captured after a foot pursuit. Unlike Capouellez, Greenlee wasn't seriously hurt in the fracas.
"He's gotten a lot of written compliments and verbal commendations from the community," Winkler said of the officer.
"(He) is an asset to our department, and we appreciate his diligent work ethic," UTPD Lt. Emily Simerly said.
J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at 865-342-6307.