WESLEY CHAPEL, Florida. – Eight years after retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves shot and killed Chad Oulson, 43, during a cellphone argument, he will be heard by a jury.
Surveillance video from inside the Cobb Theater in Wesley Chapel shows an argument between the two just before the gun went off. The video shows Oulson grabbing Reeves’ popcorn and throwing it at him. Then Reeves pulls a gun and kills Oulson.
“He said, ‘Dude, I can’t believe I got shot,’ a witness said immediately afterwards. “Blood started coming out of his mouth. I just held him.
Curtis Reeves was charged with second degree murder that day, January 13, 2014.
“His state of mind? I can’t tell you,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said. “I can’t tell you because he’s a man who just shot someone over a text message.”
They started having words when Reeves asked Oulson to stop texting.
FROM 2014 : Theater shooting suspect Curtis Reeves released on $150,000 bond
The time that has passed since the shooting has been filled with many requests and delays related to the pandemic.
Reeves’ lawyers will say that once Oulson threw the popcorn, there was no way a 71-year-old could have known what was coming next.
He said he was afraid of being assaulted. Because the 79-year-old was not the instigator or committed a crime during the altercation, they will say he had no obligation to retreat.
“(The jurors) will see what he’s going to look like now,” legal analyst Anthony Rickman said. “They’re going to see an old man. The defense is going to paint that old man as a victim.”
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Rickman predicts the prosecution will show video of Reeves talking to theater managers about Oulson being on the phone before the movie, and that the popcorn being thrown doesn’t suggest you should be afraid you need a firearm.
Was Reeves angry or scared?
“He could have distanced himself, he could have stayed in the lobby, waited for someone to come help him, told Oulson to turn off his cell phone,” Rickman said. “Instead, Reeves returned to acting.”
There will likely be testimony from witnesses who were at 1:20 p.m. on ‘Lone Survivor’, potentially including Oulson’s wife, Nichole, who was injured in the shooting, as she raised her hand to calm the dispute.
“His wife is going to be sitting there the whole trial,” Rickman said. “The jury is going to have to look her in the face every day and see her reactions.”
Another factor that could be raised is Reeves’ history as a Tampa police captain, as officers are trained in de-escalation techniques.
But the defense could argue that means he really knows when he’s in danger.