Defense attorneys for retired police captain Curtis Reeves, 74, claim video from the Wesley Chapel theater will prove the victim, Chad Oulson attacked Reeves first and that the former officer acted in self-defense.
Oulson allegedly, threw popcorn at Reeves before the former Tampa officer fatally shot him. Oulson’s was in the theater with his wife Nicole, who was struck in the left hand as she tried to help her husband.
The victim, Chad Oulson seen with his wife Nicole, was fatally shot for texting in a movie theater by Curtis Reeves in January 2014. The retired police captain is claiming self defense
The movie was scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m. in theater No. 10. Oulson and Nicole were already seated when Reeves and his wife, Vivian, arrived and sat in the row directly behind them.
As movie previews rolled, Oulson scrolled through his cellphone.
Reeves who allegely had just been texting moments earlier, leaned forward and asked him to turn it off, he later told investigators. Oulson responded with an expletive, the defendant said.
Court documents confirmed that the former Florida police officer was texting only minutes before pulling the altercation which led to the shooting.
Curtis Reeves’ son, Matthew Reeves, told detectives that his father sent him a message at 1:04 p.m. on Jan. 13 telling him he was seated inside the Wesley Chapel theater for the 1:20 p.m. showing of “Lone Survivor.”
While Oulson kept looking at hisphone, Reeves allegedly, got up and left to tell a manager. When he rurned to his seat a minute later, Oulson had put away the offending phone.
“I said, ‘I see you put it away,’ ” Reeves later told detectives. ” ‘I told the manager for no reason.’ ”
In his testimony Reeves said, Oulson mouthed off: “if it was any of your . . . business, I was texting my daughter.”
Oulson next rose on the seat and moved toward him, Reeves said. The defendant claims hes put a hand out and shrank backward.
“He kept on hollering,” Reeves said. “And it led me to believe he was going to kick my a–.”
Popcon spilled on the floor at the scne of the shooting
Reeves felt his head move to the right. His glasses were knocked sideways, he said. Popcorn flew.
“He hit me with something,” he told detectives. “I don’t know if it was his fist.”
In one quick motion, Reeves drew the gun and fired.
Oulson was shot in the chest. He died at the scene.
“As soon as I pulled the trigger, I said, ‘Oh, shoot. This is stupid,’ ” Reeves told detectives. “But again, I’m 71 years old. I don’t need an a– whipping from a younger man.”
An off-duty Sumter County sheriff’s deputy was sitting a few seats down from Reeves and took the weapon from him.
Vivian Reeves, in a separate interview, said she turned away as Oulson approached. She didn’t see the confrontation.
Detectives asked why she thought her husband fired the gun.
“I don’t know,” she said. “He was in law enforcement 20 years and he never shot anybody. . . . I don’t know if he thought he was going to hurt him. That’s what I would think, is he thought he was going to be hurt.”
Oulson’s wife, Nicole, had her arm on his chest when the gun fired. The bullet grazed her middle finger.
Later that day, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, she told detectives her version of events, which differed from the story Reeves told.
When Oulson confronted Reeves, she said, she put her arm up and tried to tell him it wasn’t worth it. She heard yelling, but didn’t see any hitting or shoving.
“He was just very rude from the beginning,” she said of Reeves. “Just belligerent. My husband was calm and just said, ‘It’ll just take a minute. I’ll turn it off. The movie hasn’t even started.’ And he was just nasty.”
Retired police captain Curtis Reeves shot Chad Oulson in the chest at close range with a handgun [photo]
The Stand Your Ground law allows Florida residents to use deadly force to defend their lives or their property. If a judge determines the incident meets the proper criteria, Reeves will be immune from criminal prosecution and civil action. Otherwise, he will be tried for second-degree murder.
In an infamous landmark case, George Zimmerman avoided pconviction for the killing of unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin five years ago after using the Stand Your Ground defense.
Oulson family attorney, TJ Grimaldi, sums it up: “I can’t imagine that when the legislature drew this up they intended it to apply to someone killing someone for having popcorn thrown in their face.”
The hearing began Monday before a Pinellas-Pasco Circuit judge and is expected to last approximately two weeks.
The defense is arguing that the former Tampa police officer, who was 71 at the time of the shooting on Jan. 13, 2014, was battling severe health problems, had reasons to fear for his life.
The Tampa Bay Times quotes Reeves’ lawyer Dino Michaels, as saying Monday: “This case is about perception,” Micheals said.
“It’s important we understand who Mr. Reeves is.”
Reeves’ family members took the stand on Monday to testify about his failing health. A doctor testified about the medical problems people usually develop when they got older.
However offering his opposing view, Nicole Oulson’s attorney Grimaldi said: “They are trying to paint a picture of a polite, feeble old man who did nothing but ask a man to put his cell phone away,” Grimaldi said.
“It’s literally his only angle to not be charged with a crime.”
Matthew Reeves, the defendant’s son who is a police officer himself and was in the theater at the time of the shooting, told the court his father was acting in self-defense.
The junior Reeves testified that he saw a flash from the gunshot after hearing his dad say something similar to “get out of my face.”
Matthew Reeves said the lights came on, and he saw Chad Oulson take “an exaggerated step down,” he told then court.
“Once he stepped back, I was able to see my father behind him,” Matthew Reeves testified.