Next FL “Stand Your Ground” Test: Ex-Cop Who Killed Theatergoer


The next major test of Florida’s “stand your ground” law may come in January, when a hearing is scheduled in the case of retired Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves, who killed theater patron Chad Oulson last year, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Oulson loomed over the elderly man who had politely asked him to stop text­ing, spewed profanity, tossed the man’s popcorn and threw his iPhone at the man’s face. By the time Reeves reached for his gun and shot the unarmed Oulson, he had been repeatedly assaulted and was convinced another attack was coming, his lawyer argues. “Mr. Reeves developed a well-founded and reasonable belief that firing his weapon was necessary,” attorney Richard Escobar said in a motion seeking dismissal of the charges. “It is completely clear that Mr. Reeves did not commit any crime.”

The 2005 “stand your ground” law allows people to use deadly force when they fear death or great bodily harm. If a judge determines that the incident meets the criteria in the law, the shooter is “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.” Prosecutor say Reeves, not Oulson, needlessly escalated the fight, which began over Oulson texting during the previews before Lone Survivor, a movie about a covert Navy SEAL operation. One witness who testified at Reeves’ bond hearing last year recalled hearing Reeves’ wife, Vivian, say aloud: “There was no cause to shoot anyone.” Reeves’ attorney says his client had ample cause. He portrayed the encounter as one between a frail 71-year-old man with decades of experience assessing situations for potential danger, and a 43-year-old “prototypical aggressive and out-of-control person.”

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