Retired cop held for movie theatre shooting

2014-01-15 14:14
Curtis Reeves appears via video conference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Florida. (Brendan Fitterer, AP)

Curtis Reeves appears via video conference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Florida. (Brendan Fitterer, AP)

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Wesley Chapel - A retired police captain is being held without bail after fatally shooting a man who was texting in a Florida movie theatre.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Curtis Reeves, 71, held without bail on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson on Monday.

Pasco County Sheriff's officials said the shooting happened when Reeves asked Oulson to stop texting at the theatre.

Reeves and his wife were sitting behind Oulson and his wife. Oulson told Reeves he was texting with his 3-year-old daughter, Cummings said.

"He must have just snapped," neighbour Joe D'Andrea said of Reeves, describing him as friendly, "stand-up" guy. "I'm trying to put all of this together."

Reeves's personnel files from the police department show he led other agencies in gun safety training and received numerous letters of commendation for his leadership.

Still, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said on Tuesday: "It didn't matter what he had done previously in his life. You don't shoot someone over a texting incident."

Sheriff's Detective Allen Proctor wrote that Reeves spoke to Oulson during the movie previews, then got up and informed management.

When Reeves returned to his seat "additional words were exchanged" and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, the report said.

After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that's when he removed a .380 calibre gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he "was in fear of being attacked”.

No bail

At the hearing, Judge Lynn Tepper said she found the evidence significant enough to warrant the no bail order.

Reeves faces life in prison if convicted. He only spoke once during his court appearance, to say "yes, ma'am" to the judge when she asked him if he could afford to hire his own attorney.

Reeves, who appeared in court via a video link from the jail, appeared to be wearing a bullet proof vest without a shirt underneath.

Reeves's attorney, Richard Escobar, argued that his client should be released because of his deep ties to the community.

Escobar said the probable cause document was "quite weak" and that Reeves was defending himself.

"The alleged victim attacked him," Escobar said, adding that Oulson threw something, possibly popcorn, at Reeves. "At that point in time he has every right to defend himself."

The judge said that throwing "an unknown object does not equal taking out a gun" and shooting someone.

- AP
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