The lawyer for Curtis Reeves, the retired Tampa police captain accused of shooting and killing a man in a movie theater last year because another moviegoer threw popcorn at him, said Wednesday that he plans to use Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law to have the criminal charges against Reeves dismissed.
Reeves, 71, was charged with second-degree murder and claimed that he had acted in self-defense.
The dispute happened before a showing of ‘Lone Survivor’ last year. Reeves fatally shot Chad Oulson in the chest and his wife Nicole was struck by the single shot in an argument over the 43-year-old father texting his 3-year-old daughter.
The Tampa Bay Times reports:
In 2012, when the Tampa Bay Times examined the “stand your ground” law, reporters found that a majority of those who invoked the law to avoid prosecution had been successful. Nearly 70 percent had gone free.
“I think we have a pretty solid stand your ground case,” said Reeves’ attorney, Richard Escobar, adding that he plans to file a formal motion within the next few weeks. A five-day hearing has already been scheduled for Jan. 25….
From the outset, Escobar has argued that video taken from inside the movie theater will show that Oulson attacked Reeves first and that his client genuinely feared for his life. Under the law, a defendant must be able to show that he had a “reasonable belief” in a threat before using deadly force, not that the threat actually existed.
Critics of the stand your ground laws have argued that they have made it more difficult to prosecute criminals and have emboldened those with guns.
Included in Escobar’s list of potential witnesses is a retired FBI agent who specializes in use-of-force cases and authored a book about the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager fatally shot by George Zimmerman.
The National Rifle Association threw their support in 2005 for the Stand You Ground law. Florida’s Legislature became the first to pass the law which allows people to use deadly force if they fear death or great bodily harm.
If a judge deems a defendant to have feared for his life or felt threatened by great bodily harm, he or she would be “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.”
At the time of the shooting, Charles Cummings, a Marine who served in Vietnam, said he overheard the victim say he was texting his 3-year-old daughter before Reeves pulled out a pistol.
He said, “Their voices start going up, there seems to be a confrontation, somebody throws popcorn, then bang, he was shot. I heard the victim say, ‘I can’t believe…,’ then he fell on us.”
Cummings added, “I can’t believe people would bring a gun to a movie. I can’t believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn or even a cell phone.”
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