Florida Judge Rejects Stand Your Ground Defense in Theatre Shooting

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Florida Judge Rejects Stand Your Ground Defense in Theatre Shooting

The retired police officer who fatally shot a man in a Florida movie theatre in 2014 will stand trial after a judge denied the dismissal of charges under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

You may remember this one.

Curtis Reeves Jr., a retired police officer, was at a showing of “Lone Survivor” with his wife when he got into an argument with Chad Oulson, who was texting during the previews.

Foul language was exchanged, and Reeves claimed to fear for his life after Oulson grabbed his popcorn and allegedly threw his cellphone at Reeves and was “was virtually on top of him.”

Reeves then shot Oulson and was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

Judge Susan Barthle said that surveillance of the incident contradicted Reeves’ account.

“The video evidence contradicts this assertion, clearly showing that there was no hit from a fist, and the item argued by the defense to be a cell phone was simply a reflection from the defendant’s shoes,” Barthle wrote in her order.

Barthle also doubted that Reeves was in great fear, writing:

“The defendant initiated contact with the alleged victim on at least three occasions and was not concerned about leaving his wife there alone when he went to talk to the manager.”

This seems like the correct call. Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws are important for lawful gun owners who defend themselves. They remove the burden of retreat from the victim and allow them to act if they find their life in danger.

Stand Your Ground is not for those that seek out arguments and then feel threatened when someone yells at them. It must be reasonably believed that deadly force is necessary “to prevent death or great bodily harm.”

Reeves is innocent until proven guilty. But lost popcorn and a thrown cellphone just aren’t reason enough to draw your weapon and fire.

Do you think Reeves had reason to use deadly force? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Ricarrdo estavans

    As a young officer he was given authority over the rest of us.. As a Sgt. Lt and Capt. he was given more power and most likely more of an attitude. Then he retires. All that power and authority reduced to taking orders from his wife about the garbage having to be taken out. Oulson being a punk spoiled annoying scumbag. A perfect storm.

    • Bill Jeffs

      Be careful about psychoanalyzing….even the best get it wrong.

      • Ricarrdo estavans

        How about this diagnosis, “a pissing match gone awry.”

  • JJ

    These are always tough because we cant see what the other guy was doing or saying. No reported witness accounts in the story. But, we can only judge based on the facts presented, and as far as this story is presented, I don’t think it was a clean shoot. The wife’s comments make that fairly clear. She obviously was not in fear for her life. Its unfortunate for all, the guy killed, the trigger puller, and any responsibly armed citizen, we all lose because of this. And lets not forget what movie was playing: Lone Survivor. I’m guessing that played into the retired cops emotions. No excuse, but helps us understand the quick jump to a trigger pull. But, I think the judge got it right on this one.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    Sadly, there are those who abuse power and rights and it paints a bad portrait for those of us fighting to keep the few rights we have left. If humans were only perfect . . . .

  • Jason Donovan

    I don’t think there was any among us who thought this was really “self defense”. When I heard about this the first time, my opinion then and now has remained the same, it wasn’t the retired officers job to discipline another movie goer. He should have asked management to handle it and stayed out of it.

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  • Twisted Buckeye

    We movie goers without guns only have a few options: move, talk to the manager, demand our money back, toss our popcorn at the idiots and expect a fight to break out…. but whipping out a gun and shooting in a movie theater: no. Not a Stand Your Ground Case at all.

  • cjohnson44546

    At his age, with a disparity of force… I can understand that he may have truly feared for his life and felt he did all he could, as he couldn’t get up and away fast enough. Was his fear rational though? I don’t think we can know that from the information currently publicly available. That Jack*ss was asking for something bad to happen to him acting that way, so I only have sympathy for his family, not for him being killed.

    • Ricarrdo estavans

      Why would he leave his wife and go talk to the theater manager? If I considered the guy to be a menace I would have taken my wife with me.

  • Bill Jeffs

    While the circumstances that led up to this tragedy would fall outside the realm of “stand your ground”, I believe it ‘may’ have led to that, at least in the mind of the retired cop. It’s difficult to say exactly what any of us would have done and as we know, hindsight is 20/20 but trapped in a row of seats with some guy who may be bigger or badder than you pounding on your head, at the very least making aggressive moves, may change the way you think.

    • Ricarrdo estavans

      Nothing but road rage except in a movie theater. A mano on mano pissing match went awry.

    • Reinhardt Schweinmörder

      There were, by reports, only about 20 people in the theater…so how could the retired PO be “trapped in a row of seats”? And no where does any credible report occur which states that Chad Oulson was pounding on Reeves’ head. Where do you come up with this specious shyte? You need psychological help, Billy, before you go all medieval on some poor victim in the same manner.

  • Green Hornet

    “There are more horses asses than horses” RHS
    Opinions vary but I was not there,
    I was consulting on a project not far from there when this happened, although not from FL
    Sounds like Reeves could have walked away although he should not have had to and I don’t blame him for his action

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