Lawyer Says FL Law Supports Self-Defense Claim In Theater Texting Shooting


The fatal shooting of a Florida man over texting in a movie theater on Jan. 13 was dissected by the New York Times. Curtis Reeves, 71, founder of the Tampa Police Department’s first tactical response team, shot Chad Oulson, 43, a motorcycle enthusiast who was texting a babysitter taking care of a sick infant daughter. The Times says the episode “instantly sparked a national debate about legal firearms in public spaces, a former homicide detective had snuffed the life from a Desert Storm veteran on a movie date with his wife.”

“What's he bringing a gun to the movies for?” said Charles Cummings, a 68-year-old former Marine who was in the row ahead of Reeves and described him as aggressive. “That's a happy place. No one is going to kill you there, except that he did go there and kill someone.” Reeves asked Oulson to quit texting. Oulson kept at it, explaining that he was communicating about a preschooler. Reeves’ attorney, Richard Escobar, said Reeves, charged with second-degree murder, acted in self-defense. He suggested that Reeves was hit in the face with popcorn and something else, and had every right to defend himself with deadly force. Escobar said that because of Reeves’ age, Florida law supports the self-defense claim. In Florida, a misdemeanor assault against anyone 65 or older is a felony. A person who has a reasonable fear of great bodily injury or death is not obligated to retreat.

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