Retired police captain who killed texting theatergoer to use Stand Your Ground defense

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The retired Tampa Bay police captain who shot and killed a man texting in a movie theater last year plans to invoke Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground laws when his trial begins in January, his lawyer told The Tampa Bay Times.


To refresh: Reeves, 73, stands accused of shooting Chad Oulson, 43, inside a movie theater after Reeves asked Oulson to stop texting during the movie. According to reports, Oulson threw his popcorn bag at Reeves, who then shot him.

"I think we have a pretty solid stand your ground case," Reeves' attorney, Richard Escobar, told the Times.


Escobar says he will present witness testimony and video evidence that his client was legitimately acting in self-defense, and that his client "feared for his life" after having popcorn thrown at him.

Escobar told the Guardian that he would also be focusing on the issue of elder abuse.

“This is not only a case about the self-defense of the individual, but this is also a case about the abuse of the elderly,” Escobar said. “What individual in this world gets up in the middle of a movie theater, with patrons about to watch a movie, and gets up and attacks an elderly person?”

Reeves, as has already been reported, texted his son moments before confronting Oulson about his texting. Reeves told police that Oulson struck him during their altercation, something Reeves' wife Vivian told authorities she did not witness.


Florida's Stand Your Ground statute was signed into law by then-governor Jeb Bush in 2005. It was most famously invoked by George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin following a scuffle in 2012. The law says that people who believe they are threatened do not have to try to retreat before defending themselves or to "prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony" even in public.

Defenders of the law point to dropping crime rates as a measure of the law's success, while justified-homicide rates have shot up. Thirty-three states have some form of Stand Your Ground law on the books, though several have pending legislation to repeal or scale back dramatically.


Reeves' trial was set to begin last spring, but was delayed, according to the defense, when the state added 20-plus more witnesses that the defense would have to interview pre-trial. At the time, Assistant State Attorney Bill Loughery expressed frustration that Reeves' defense team had not provided the state with their witness list. Later this summer, Escobar was granted another motion to delay, saying he had not interviewed expert witnesses or deposed others.

The trial is slated to start in late January.

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