Guns

Florida Theater Shooter May Get Free Pass Under ‘Stand Your Ground’

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A retired Florida police captain who allegedly shot and killed a man in a Tampa movie theater for texting could make a claim under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

Curtis Reeves was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson.

Oulson allegedly threw popcorn at Reeves before shots were fired. The fact that Reeves is 71 years old and has advanced training as a police officer may help his attorney argue that he was simply standing his ground during the argument with Oulson, Christian Science Monitor reported.

“Elderly people are a little bit more vulnerable than regular adults, so what may give a younger person a black eye could mean a cracked skull for a septuagenarian – that’s certainly a factor that may be figured in,” said former Florida prosecutor Bob Dekle.

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On the other hand, as a former cop and SWAT team chief, Reeves’ experience could just as easily hurt his case, legal experts told the Tampa Bay Times. Prosecutors could argue that Reeves should have had expert judgment on significant threat and the use of deadly force.

This incident might not be the only run-in Reeves has had at the movies. A woman told prosecutors she was watching a film a couple weeks ago when a man she believes is Reeves confronted her about using her phone in the theater. He even compained to the manager. She put the phone away, but said the man was still glaring at her when the movie was over.

Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Oulson and his wife. Oulson was text messaging his 3-year-old daughter, when Reeves argued with him about using his phone in the darkened theater.

According to witnesses, voices raised, popcorn was thrown, and then a shot was fired. Oulson’s wife Nichole was shot through the hand, which was on her husband’s chest, and struck Oulson in the chest.

"It ended almost as quickly as it started," said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin.

Sources: Christian Science Monitor, Tampa Bay Times