Movie Theater Shooter May Use Stand Your Ground LawBy: Amanda Crum - January 14, 2014
The 71-year old man who shot and killed a fellow movie-goer on Monday for texting during a screening of “Lone Survivor” may use the “stand your ground” defense.
Curtis Reeves Jr. told police that when he asked Chad Oulson to stop texting during the movie, Oulson refused. After Reeves left the theater to complain to management, he was confronted by Oulson, who stood up and threw a bag of popcorn at his face. That move could be a key factor in whether the controversial law will come into play in Reeves’ defense.
Law professor Charles Rose says that many factors come into play, including the fact that Oulson’s popcorn throwing was technically assault under Florida law.
If Reeves considered the popcorn throwing to be one step in an escalating response from Oulson — and if the 71-year-old man feared that Oulson would come over the movie theater seats and physically attack him next — and if Reeves felt he wouldn’t be able to handle such an attack from a younger man, then jurors might consider deadly force reasonable, the attorney said.
“Here’s the problem: We’re trying to look into the mind of the defendant and posit what the thought was happening,” Rose said.
The “stand your ground” defense got national attention during the trial of George Zimmerman after he shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin during an altercation that arose when Zimmerman followed the teen through a neighborhood, believing him to be suspicious. According to the law, Florida residents have the right to defend themselves with force if they feel their life is in danger.
Reeves also shot and wounded Oulson’s wife, Vivian, in the altercation.
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