Published: Sat, March 11, 2017
U.S. | By Jeffery Vega

Judge rejects 'stand your ground' defense in Florida theater-shooting case

Judge rejects 'stand your ground' defense in Florida theater-shooting case

A retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed a man in a movie theater will face a second-degree murder charge after a judge ruled that Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law does not apply in this case.

Judge Susan Barthle heard testimony from prosecutors and the defense to determine if the Stand Your Ground law meets the criteria in the Curtis Reeves murder trial.

Reeves said he shot Oulson after he was either punched or hit in the face with a cellphone.

The shooting occurred inside Cobb Theatre in Wesley Chapel after an argument about Oulson using his cell phone during the movie previews.

Reeves is free on bond.

After complaining to the theater manager about the man's cellphone use during the film screening, Reeves said something to Oulson that led to a physical altercation. Surveillance video shows Oulson throwing popcorn at Reeves.

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The ex-cop and his wife Vivian had been sitting in the back row of the theater when he leaned forward to tell Oulson to put his phone away. An instant later, Reeves pulled a gun from his pocket and fired. His wife, Nichole Oulson, sustained a hand injury from the same shot after she placed her hand on her husband during the confrontation. "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 writes in her order.

According to the ruling, the court found that Curtis Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain, did not credibly demonstrate that he reasonably believed it was necessary for him to use deadly force in the situation.

"The logical conclusion is that he was trying to justify his actions after the fact". "Unfortunately, we expect the defense to appeal the ruling and know that this case will continue to drag on".

"But this is without a doubt good news", Grimaldi said.

"Stand your ground" is a bad law that has allowed criminals and violent offenders to evade punishment - even when they initiated a fight with an unarmed victim. "You cannot convince me that the legislature's intent was to pass a law that when someone throws popcorn on someone else, that person can shoot them".

In her ruling Barthle said the evidence showed a different story that was Reeves testified.

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