Retired Cop Shoots Fellow Moviegoer to Death Over Texting and a Thrown Bag of Popcorn
A 71-year-old retired police officer has been charged with second-degree murder after shooting another man to death over the latter's texting in a movie theater.
Curtis Reeves, the armed retired officer, became enraged when Chad Oulson would not stop texting, despite a request to do so. The argument escalated into a shouting match and Oulson purportedly threw his bag of popcorn at Reeves, who promptly removed his .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket and fired one fatal shot into the man's chest. Oulson's wife, who attempted to shield her husband's chest from the bullet with her hand, was also injured.
The men were in a crowded theater where "Lone Survivor," a movie about Navy SEALS fighting a bloody battle in Afghanistan was showing.
Oulson was immediately taken to a Tampa-area hospital, where he died shortly after arrival.
Charles Cummings, a retired combat Marine in Vietnam, who witnessed the shooting with his son expressed his horrified bewilderment to the Associated Press.
"I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun, to a movie theater," he said. "I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn. Over a cellphone."
Also according to AP, Reeves told detectives after he was arrested that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that he "was in fear of being attacked."
Defense attorneys are now speculating about whether Reeves will be able to invoke Florida's "Stand your ground" law in his defense, the infamous statute that recieved widespread attention during the trial of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. (Zimmerman's defense attorneys ultimately chose not to invoke the SYG on their client's behalf, but some jurors have admitted the law did influence their decision to aquit him).
"Stand your ground does not limit it to just fear of death, stand your ground permits you to use deadly force if you think you're abou tto suffer bodily harm," said well-known defense attorney Stephen Romine to KSDK.
The next step in the case, say criminal law experts, will likely be the defense filing a stand your ground motion, at which point the judge will decide if the defense can be used.