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Florida “Movie theater texting killing” prosecution moves forward

February 25, 2014

As if we needed yet another example of the mainstream media’s anti-gun bias, we have it for you today.

You probably heard about the “terrible” incident where a man confronted someone text messaging in a theater and ended up pulling out a gun and shooting the jackwagon who was ruining his moving-going experience by texting during the movie.

Well, that’s not exactly how it went down.

Hard to believe, I know.

Turns out there’s video from inside the theater.  Yeah, night vision.  Tell that to your teenage kids or grandkids, and caution them not to be getting too hot and heavy inside the theater unless they are wanting to show off for the audience in the security booth.

Anyway, the incident has gone to a bail hearing.

The defendant – the man who had the concealed carry license – is 71-years-old.  His name is Curtis Reeves and he’s a retired captain from the Tampa PD.  After retiring, he took over security for Busch Gardens.  Clearly, he was a good cop who knew his stuff.

CNN has the video, along with some fair analysis, particularly for CNN.   You can see by clicking here.  Pay attention to the lower right hand corner of the frame.

Their analyst is prosecutor-friendly, but “ultimately” she said the defendant said something very telling, she recalled.  The defendant said (paraphrasing):  “If I were 20 years younger, I might have tussled with the man, but I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

It’s clear the prosecution is moving forward with the case, although it’s pretty easy to see from the video evidence, along with the statement of the defendant, that a strong case can be made for self-defense.

While Florida has a “Stand Your Ground” law, the video suggests it was more “back against the wall” case of self-defense (recognized in all fifty states, by the way) as the man was seated when physically confronted by 43-year-old obnoxious jackwagon.  Clearly there was disparity of force present in that a senior citizen is no match for a young, healthy person in an “empty handed” fight.  There may have also been a physical size disparity as well.

If the defendant can articulate that he was truly in jeopardy of a crippling injury or worse he should win this case.

Left, the defendant Curtis Reeves. Right, the aggressor Chad Oulson and his wife Nicole. Reeves photo Reuters/Andy Jones/Tampa Tribune/Pool. Oulson photo by Chad Oulson/Facebook.

Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy must all be present to claim justifiable self-defense.

The now-deceased aggressor in this case, by the video, clearly has opportunity and jeopardy to inflict crippling injury or worse by his proximity and youthful condition vs. a septuagenarian.

The only thing that can muddy the waters is if the 71-year-old was unreasonable or taunting in his requests that the deceased cease texting during the movie.  A prosecutor might be able to say that the attack was provoked, but among decent people, it would seem the only reasonable provocation for a middle-aged male to attack a elderly senior citizen would be a physical attack on the part of the senior citizen against the younger man.

Add in Florida’s “Stand your ground” law at this point, which does not require the legitimate victim to retreat from where he or she has a lawful right to be, and it’s looking good for an acquittal.

There’s some additional nuances of Florida law that will come into play during this trial, probably benefiting the defendant.

The outcome, unlike in the recent “loud music” so-called self-defense trial, is hardly a foregone conclusion.

At this point, unless the prosecution has some damning evidence not yet in the public eye, this is little more than a show trial.

9 Responses to Florida “Movie theater texting killing” prosecution moves forward

  1. ken on February 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Alas…….my stereotypes are in conflict here! 1. Ex-cop. YOu got three strikes against you. I hate cops. I fear cops. Cops today are NOT the cops of forty years ago.

    2. TATTOOED pretty miami tough maggot punk, picking on a 71-year old geezer in a theater, presumably cause geezer told him to put his doggamned cell phone away.

    What am I to do, let the facts out? Nah?! I gotsta make up my mind before the evidence is in.

    I don’t know, though, judging from that video, looks like maggot grabbed gramps’s popcorn and threw it back at him. Is that a threat to life or of great bodily harm? Not in a million years. Popcorn never killed anyone. Ban popcorn and only outlaws will have popcorn.

    So, geezer ex cop (remember, three strikes already!) is attacked by deadly threat of popcorn, ALREADY has his hand on his gun, pulls it and shoots, the guy who was moving in the OTHER direction.

    How many instances, John, have you cited, of merely PRESENTING your gun and it deters any future violence? Did officer unfriendly here present? No, he pulled and shot – the evil, nasty, tattooed popcorn attacker.

    MURDER. FIRST DEGREE. GUILTY. OVER. Nother cop with attitude shot someone he had no right to shoot.

    I’m calling it. Guilty. Let me know what the jury sez.

    • jboch on February 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Ken,

      I admire your candor identifying your own biases.

      You have to think analytically. What would you do if you were a 71-year-old “geezer” and some young, tough guy – towering over you with a very angry disposition – physically accosted you when you were stuck in a chair in the seated position?

      Would you be in fear of being hurt by this individual?

      I think most reasonable and prudent people would be.

      You might not, but then you have already demonstrated yourself as being less than reasonable and prudent now and then. (That’s a friendly critique, by the way).

      • tom on February 25, 2014 at 10:23 pm

        I gotta go with ken on this one. I see nothing in that video that would indicate the old dude was in imminent danger of his life. I think the 43 year old is guilty of a bad attitude and nothing more. Jon you usually call the shoots right but I’m a little disappointed in your judgment on this one. A 43 year old man is dead, a wife now a widow and a little girl lost her daddy.

        Not a violent street mugging. .. not a grocery store holdup but an argument that escalated into spilled popcorn and a few epitaphs…….. and ultimately a murder.

      • ken on February 26, 2014 at 2:16 am

        John! Heh heh! I gotta love your sense of humor! And of course I love the work that you do!

        But, alas, you’re a firearms instructor. You can’t project your feelings here. You must know (and teach) when deadly force may be used and no way, no how can it be employed when threatened with a popcorn attack.

        The standard is not “afraid of ‘being hurt,'” but imminent fear of death or great bodily injury (in most jurisdictions, right?).

        mark my words, GEEZER’S GUILTY!

        *And that’s no sign of disrespect…one of the best rock musicians of all time is named Geezer!

  2. SED on February 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    It is hard to draw any legal conclusions based upon the video. However, a couple of lessons can easily be drawn from this incident. The first thing we tell our GSL Defense Training students is that use of deadly force is an absolute last resort and that avoidance is the best policy. There were a lot of empty seats in that theatre. Moving to one of those seats may not have been the macho thing to do but certainly would have lead to a less difficult conclusion for the shooter. Second, while John is correct in noting that ability may have been present by disparate size and age, it is to be emphasized that shooting an unarmed assailant will almost always put you in the crosshairs of a probable prosecution. This factor is another reason to seek to avoid the confrontation. Having a CCW should make you more careful and circumspect in your actions rather than less.

  3. DLMG40SL on February 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I knew there was more to this incident than had been disclosed, can’t watch the video, on dial-up, but think the old guy would have been better off to not say anything and just move away from the irritation. If someone was being irritating early on in the movie, it would be almost certain he would not be less so as the movie progressed. I still believe there was more than “texting” going on for the aggresor to become aggrivated enough to attack the old guy, even if it was “just” spilling or throwing popcorn at him.

    What I wonder is: who was seated first, was the elder couple seated when the other couple came in and chose their seats near the older couple or vise-versa, did the older couple feel they shouldn’t have to move for some reason, why would “texting” be so irritating, even in a movie theator, would think that sooner or later he would be done texting and would settle into watching (paying attention) to the movie, although he might not have been that interrested in being there.
    All in all, too bad it came to a shooting.

  4. Sam Whittemore on February 27, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I’m hitching my cart on Mr. Boch’s horse on this.

    I know he and his team have a LOT of knowledge and have been to schools and whatnot to learn how to argue a case is self-defense.
    So what it was popcorn he was thrusting at the elderly gent sitting down. It wasn’t the popcorn that was the problem. The hand that thrust it that was the problematic weapon.

    I’m not 71 yet, but I’m not too far off. I too would shoot any punk that was going to slug me while I was sitting seated in front of him. Esepcially if I can’t get away. He could disorient me with a punch and beat me savagely after that. I just don’t know. And I’m surely not going to rely on his mercy on me not to pummel me into the hospital. I have to assume the worst of anyone who physically attacks me and react accordingly.

    Sam

  5. Texas TopCat on February 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I do think that this is a really sad event I that someone was killed. The verdict could go either way. If there is any good news for the gun community it will be hard to bring race into the argument that is sure to follow.

  6. Stanford on March 5, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Keep in mind the older and younger man had an argument about the noisy texting (silent keypads are best in a public place ) THEN the older man left to complain to the theatre’s manager. When he came back to his seat, apparently the younger man took exception to being “told on” by the older man … leading to a different confrontation that ended in the shooting. The older man has no Stand Your Ground case here since he left his seat and then came back to it. He could have changed his seat at that point and removed any fear of harm. But since he returned to his seat a SYG IMMUNITY request would be tossed real quickly. But he could say the younger man was the one who ramped up the argument against him. No doubt that the ex law enforcement officer had dealt with his share if hot- headed younger men and he could say he was in fear for him and his wife that the younger man was going to get physical. The older man’s lawyers could sway a jury in their client’s favor.