What did Curtis Reeves do? Case explained as former cop is acquitted of murder in Florida movie theatre shooting

Curtis Reeves shot Chad Oulson in 2014 when the latter was out on a movie date with his wife (Image via Twitter/ @erikwaxler)
Curtis Reeves shot Chad Oulson in 2014 when the latter was out on a movie date with his wife (Image via Twitter/ @erikwaxler)

Curtis Reeves, Florida's retired police captain, was acquitted by a Florida jury of shooting a man dead in a movie theater eight years ago.

Initially, Reeves pleaded not guilty and claimed self-defense, saying he was afraid he would get attacked when he and Chad Oulson got into an argument. In previous reports, authorities said that Oulson sent a text message to his young daughter's babysitter during previews and that Reeves told him to put away his phone.

The shooting injured Olson's wife, but she survived.

The jury began deliberations on the evening of February 25, after a nine-day trial in which Oulson's widow had hoped for a guilty verdict. State prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser said during his closing arguments:

"Nobody is ever above the law. (Reeves) killed another human being in a crowded movie theater next to his wife for no reason."

Defense lawyer Richard Escobar urged jurors to put themselves in Reeves' position at the time. Escobar was 71 years old and the perceived a threat. His advocates called him a "decorated law enforcement officer who had training in the use of force, in assessing danger, and the risks involved when we're faced with a dangerous encounter."

At the time of the killing, the case received widespread attention. Part of that attention came from Reeves' self-defense claim under Florida's "stand your ground" law, which was ultimately denied by a judge.

According to WFTS, the eight-year delay in the trial occurred as a result of several motions, pretrial hearings, and COVID-19. Attorney TJ Grimaldi, representing Oulson's wife, called the delays embarrassing, saying that they permitted Reeves to "be at home with his loved ones and spend time with his family."

What happened between Curtis Reeves and Chad Oulson?

Reeves has been charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the 2014 death of Chad Oulson, 43, who was out with his wife on a movie date.

According to Reeves, he shot Oulson in self-defense during an argument with his wife over Oulson supposedly sending texts. His wife claimed that he was texting her babysitter, during a screening of Lone Survivor in a theater near Tampa.

According to a criminal complaint, Curtis Reeves confronted Oulson about texting during the previews before the movie.

As a result of their disagreement, Oulson threw a popcorn bag at Reeves, who then fired a handgun, striking Oulson in the chest, according to the complaint. Oulson died after being taken to a hospital. His wife was shot in the hand.

The complaint claims that Curtis Reeves told authorities he was afraid of being attacked. His attorneys claim Oulson threw a cellphone at the victim's head during the shooting, and that he was aggressively leaning over the chair when it occurred. Prosecutors said popcorn is not a weapon and witnesses reported not seeing Oulson throw his cellphone.

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Edited by Srijan Sen