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Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Crime, Featured, Law | 21 comments

FL Movie Shooter ‘Feared for Life’ After Victim Chad Oulson Threw Popcorn at Him During Argument

Curtis Reeves Said He ‘Feared for His Life’ in Florida Movie Theater Shooting

Curtis Reeves Said He ‘Feared for His Life’ in Florida Movie Theater Shooting

Don’t be surprised if Florida movie theater shooter, retired police captain, Curtis Reeves uses the controversial ‘Stand Your Ground‘ law to justify murdering Chad Oulson during an altercation about texting at Cobb CineBistro Movie theater in Wesley Chapel. Reeves was charged with second-degree murder. Judge Lynn Tepper ordered him held without bond, saying the “evidence of guilt is significant.”

The Tampa Bay Times speculated that Reeves could use the legislation, which allows for people to use deadly force if “a person fears death or great bodily harm…even if retreat possible.”

Curtis Reeves reportedly said Chad Oulson had thrown objects at him and, therefore, he feared for his life. Of course, like Trayvon Martin, Chad Oulson isn’t here to give his version of the events that led up to his murder, but thankfully, his wife and others witnessed the altercation.

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office investigators said the following series of events led up to the shooting:

Reeves wanted [Chad Oulson] to stop texting. He walked out and complained to theater management. When Reeves returned to the 1:20 p.m. showing of Lone Survivor, “words were exchanged” and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, an arrest affidavit states.

Witnesses say the pair did not throw punches. Then Reeves pulled a gun and shot Oulson, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

So, a bag of popcorn is now a deadly weapon? Kinda like George Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara arguing that Trayvon Martin used the sidewalk as a deadly weapon. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly disrespectful of Chad Oulson to throw the popcorn at Curtis Reeves, but that’s no justification for fatally shooting him. It’s no surprise to learn that the retired police captain approached another moviegoer about texting three weeks ago, the Daily Mail reports. Sounds a lot like George Zimmerman-type vigilantism.

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

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  • rudi

    Florida is a mess. One can’t walk the street without worrying about armed cowboys. The SYG law is bad law in a crazy state.

  • Rambie

    The SYG defenders were out in force at news sites yesterday when this broke. If there is any justice Reeves SYG defense will fall flat and he’ll serve a prison term.

  • sheknows

    “no punches were thrown”. Yet this retired police captain takes out his gun and kills him?? Well 2 things. He will get off primarily because he is a retired Police officer who is ” an upstanding, law abiding citizen to ANY Fla. jury” and because a bag of popcorn, especially an opened, probably half eaten one at that, is a known weapon of choice to those who threaten the lives of opponents.
    A) why did he care if Oulson was texting? It’s not talking on the phone and disturbs no one ( except pissed off ex-cops who don’t already like the LOOK of someone.
    B)Anyone think his watching a 2.5 hr movie about a lone survivor in a warzone may have affected his thinking?

  • adelinesdad

    This case differs from the Zimmerman case in that there were no punches thrown, no scuffle, no blood drawn, and plenty of witnesses to testify to exactly what happened to remove all doubt that Reeves was not under any significant threat.

    A few commentaries I heard yesterday suggest the SYG defense would go nowhere, for the reasons above. If that’s the case, I don’t think it’s fair in this case to criticize SYG or Florida law in general until we find out whether those laws will actually be used as a successful defense.

    sheknows, this happened during the previews (which further baffles the mind), so I don’t think the content of the movie played a role. Neither will I speculate on the types of people that Reeves or his victim where based on the type of movie they went to see, though I understand they were both military guys.

  • rudi

    So far it’s mostly gangbangers, cops and wanna be cops who benefited from Florida’s SYG law. The average Florida gun owner doesn’t pull out a gun and fire in a crowded theater. A trained cop or soldier should never have done this.

  • rudi

    This comment at BJ nails the problem with Florida’s SYG law. Even Texas addresses when SYG is justified. Verbal altercations escalating into shootings is a threat to the sane in Florida. Florida needs to tighten upo it’s SYG law, but won’t happen with the Teabagers running the state…

  • roro80

    “This case differs from the Zimmerman case in that there were no punches thrown, no scuffle, no blood drawn, and plenty of witnesses to testify to exactly what happened to remove all doubt that Reeves was not under any significant threat.”

    Also, no potential jurors have automatic ingrained fear of a white guy holding popcorn in a movie theater.

  • sheknows

    LOL roro…like they did a bag of skittles in the hands of a black guy.

  • Rambie

    I think they were more scared of the hoodie SK.

  • StockBoyLA

    A the concession stand, “I’ll have two Diet Cokes and a large bag of weaponized popcorn with extra butter”.

  • Momzworld

    All joking aside, I hope this case will be a turning point with this law. I live in Florida; I have for 46 years. I don’t see danger around every corner, but this case as well as the daily news reports of shootings gives one pause. I personally think this is another case of a disturbed person in legal possession of a firearm. We had a family member who was in law enforcement, and we’ve known several in the profession because of him. This man is not representative. He seems to be looking for trouble; looking for a reason to pull out his weapon. Like all of you, I surely hope some lawyer or judge or jury does not permit this case to be validated by SYG! I hope the charge of second degree murder stands and that this individual does time. And I hope that the Stand Your Ground law in this state gets a review and a revision. I can ALWAYS HOPE!

  • adelinesdad

    Personally, I wouldn’t speculate on the racial attitudes of people I’ve never met and didn’t ask to be put in that situation.

  • The alleged perpetrator is 71 years old. This seems odd behavior for a retired law enforcement officer with an otherwise distinguished career (as far as I know from reporting I’ve read). It would be appropriate, I think, to ask whether there has been any deterioration in his mental faculties.

  • It would be appropriate, I think, to ask whether there has been any deterioration in his mental faculties.

    That is exactly what I was thinking. The story begs the question.

  • roro80

    Personally, I think it would be pretty silly to deny that most white Americans have a culturally-ingrained reaction to young black men, and that that was a factor in the Treyvon case, and not a factor in this case. But hey, each to their own and all. I do allow for the possibility that there are white people in the US who are so magnanimous and evolved that they can ignore every cultural narrative they were taught throughout many years of living in the world and interacting with society, but I certainly don’t know any of those people.

    (Please note that I’m not saying I’m immune — I’m a white person who grew up here and live here the same way as every other white person.)

  • ordinarysparrow

    Reeves, 71, retired from the Tampa Police Department in 1993 as a captain, according to Tampa police.
    Reeves was instrumental in establishing the department’s first Tactical Response Team, police said.
    His son, Mathew Reeves, is now a Tampa police officer and has been with the department since 2003.

    After retiring from the police department, Curtis Reeves worked at Busch Gardens until 2005 as the Director of Security, according to Busch Gardens Tampa, but no further information was available about his employment with the park.

    Reeves moved to Hernando County several years ago where he served as a board member for the Hernando County Crime Stoppers program, but he is no longer active with the organization.

    “I just can’t imagine,” said Elnora Brown. “I can’t imagine what happened that he would do that.”

    Brown has been a family friend of Reeves for the past 45 years. She described him as a good Christian man and a loving grandfather.

    “I thought it just can’t be. He’s just not that kind of person,” Brown said.

    The sentiment echoed down the Brooksville street where Reeves and his family has lived for years. CNN

    Agree with Tidbits and Kevin something organic is likely going on here.

    Will be greatly surprised to hear this is not related dementia.

  • adelinesdad


    Yes, I agree with that. And certainly those prejudices that we all carry around with us influence the snap judgments that we all instinctively (maybe even necessarily) make about the people we interact with on a daily basis. And I have little doubt that influenced Zimmerman’s tragically poor decisions leading up to his confrontation with Trayvon.

    But I’d question how important those snap judgments are on a jury trial, where the jurors have plenty of time to examine the facts of the case, as well as examine their own prejudices, in their good-faith attempt–which I must assume it was–to decide the case rationally and objectively (as opposed to instinctively). I think that is especially true in a case where the typical snap judgment that whites might make about a young black male was directly contradicted by the facts of the case (the fact that Trayvon didn’t do anything wrong prior to the confrontation was never disputed in the trial).

    In addition, if ingrained racial prejudice did play a role in the verdict, it may primarily be because the jurors had to fill in some unknowns about the case–most importantly, who initiated the physical confrontation. However, that this was an unknown fact to begin with means that we have to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant anyway.

    So, putting all that together, I’m not sure that the legal case to be made, or the probability that he will be convicted, is significantly impacted by the race of the victim, in either this case or the Zimmerman case. At least not to the extent that the other factors I listed are.

  • adelinesdad

    Elijah and others, my first thought when hearing the facts of this case is that it sounds analogous (though not exactly the same) to the cases where old people run into crowds of people with their cars. Not that I think 71 is terribly old, but I wouldn’t be surprised either if that played a role in this case, and I’d expect the defense to play that angle. In the clips I saw of his hearing, he didn’t look quite “all there” to me, in my non-clinical opinion.

    My heart goes out to the families of both men.

  • SteveK

    And still no one asks… Why does a 71 year old (or anybody for that matter) need to be armed when going to the movies.

    Feeling threatened / frightened by simply being out in public should, on its own, be a warning sign that something’s wrong… Even more so as the person in question in this case is a trained law enforcement professional.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Steve the simple reason for Florida resident is; ‘because they can’.

    Looking at this case; “Why does a 71 year old need to be armed when going to the movies?”

    If you access his background; He was Captain of Police Department. He was instrumental in establishing the first tactile response team. He retired and became a Director of Security. He was on the Board of the local Crime Stoppers. It is highly likely that one like this had rather be without his pants than without his gun.

    I agree, it seems wrong-headed, but given his context, very normal…The bigger issue for me is that the State of Florida appears to have a sever case of promoting ‘Intermittent Explosive Disorder’.

  • It is highly likely that one like this had rather be without his pants than without his gun.


    I don’t own a gun, so by default, without my pants is my choice.

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