TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore
Dave Ross

When you can't 'stand your ground' in Florida

AP: 5160cc1b-94ec-4860-a6f9-f46667e826d9
A security guard enters the Cobb theater Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Wesley Chapel , Fla. A 71-year-old retired Tampa, Fla., police officer is charged with second degree murder after shooting 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Monday during a cell phone dispute inside the theater. Oulson's wife Nicole was also shot while trying to protect her husband. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) | Zoom
Just outside Tampa, an ex-cop by the name of Curtis Reeves, age 71, was at a showing of "Lone Survivor" with his wife, and was irritated that the man in front of him - Chad Oulsen, also there with his wife - was texting during the previews.

The ex-cop told Oulsen to stop, and then left to get a manager, but the manager was busy, so he came back, and the two of then started arguing.

Chad Oulsen explained, loudly, that he was texting his little girl's baby sitter, and finally threw a box of popcorn at the ex-cop.

Who then pulled out a thirty-eight. And as Oulsen's wife put up her hand to defend her husband, Curtis Reeves fired a shot through her hand, and his heart.

He collapsed and died at the hospital.

Reeves put the gun down and waited to be arrested.

Tuesday in court, Reeves was ordered held without bail, but not before his attorney Richard Escobar, tried to argue that the investigation shows he fired in self-defense.

"Clearly it indicates that the aggressor was the alleged victim and the allegation there is that the victim threw a bag of popcorn. I think what's important is that the interview of Mr. Reeves indicates that number one, the alleged victim attacked him, struck him with an object, which resulted in the gunfire," said Escobar.

The local sheriff had already determined this did not qualify as a Stand Your Ground case because we're talking about popcorn. But the lawyer for the ex-cop is arguing that popcorn or not, his client was afraid.

To which the state's attorney replied, "all of the eye-witnesses interviewed by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office indicated they never saw the victim strike, threaten, or hit Mr. Reeves in this case."

To which defense attorney Escobar replied, "What started the incident may have been the bag of popcorn, according to the affidavit, but what's important here is the officer's interview of Mr. Reeves, which clearly indicates that he was attacked, hit in the face with an unknown object. At that point in time, he has every right to defend himself concerning that particular object."

And then it was Judge Lynn Tepper's turn.

"The only description I have is that he (Reeves) was struck in the face by an unknown object. Not by a hard object. Not that he was knocked around, just struck in the face by an unknown object that may or may not have been popcorn. But an unknown object doesn't equal taking out a gun and firing it at somebody's chest. The court is finding that there is more than sufficient probable cause of second degree murder."

The judge ordered Curtis Reeves held without bond.

So for now anyway, even in Florida, killing someone who throws popcorn at you does not qualify as self-defense.

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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