'Stand Your Ground' Eyed in Florida Movie Shooting

Ex-cop's age could help his case

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2014 3:51 AM CST | Updated Jan 15, 2014 6:43 AM CST

(Newser) – Chucking popcorn at an elderly guy may not sound like a valid reason for gunning a man down, but the retired police captain charged with murder in an argument about movie theater texting happens to be both 71 and in Florida so he might just have a case under the state's Stand Your Ground law, the Christian Science Monitor finds. Curtis Reeves has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Chad Oulson, 43. He was denied bail at a hearing yesterday.

  • "Elderly people are a little bit more vulnerable than 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," says a retired Florida prosecutor. Reeves has told police he was in fear of being attacked.

  • Reeves' status as a former police officer and SWAT team chief could help or, just as easily, hurt his case, legal experts tell Tampa Bay Times. His defense could argue that he has expert judgment on when to use deadly force, but prosecutors could counter that his decades of experience should have taught him how to de-escalate the situation.
  • This isn't the first time Reeves has clashed with a moviegoer over texting, reports the New York Daily News. A woman has told prosecutors that she was at the same theater just a couple of weeks ago when a man she believes was Reeves confronted her about using her phone and fetched the manager. She complied and put the phone away, but says she spotted Reeves glaring at her after the movie.
  • Friends and family members, meanwhile, remember Oulson as a generous, funny man who was a devoted father and husband, CNN finds. The 7-year Navy veteran, who was texting his toddler daughter when Reeves confronted him, was on a date with his wife, who was shot through the hand by the bullet that killed husband. "She's a wreck," a family friend says. "I mean she just lost her husband, the father of her little girl over something that should have never happened."

Curtis Reeves appears via video conference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Florida.
Curtis Reeves appears via video conference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Florida.   (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Brendan Fitterer)
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