After 8 Years, Ex-Cop Goes on Trial for Theater Shooting

Curtis Reeves fatally shot man he had confronted about texting during previews
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2022 2:57 PM CST
After 8 Years, Ex-Cop Goes on Trial for Theater Shooting
Nicole Oulson, center, arrives for the start of the second-degree murder trial for former Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves on Monday, Feb 14, 2022.   (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Eight years after he killed a man who had been texting during previews at a Florida movie theater, a retired Tampa police captain is finally on trial. Opening statements began Monday in the trial of Curtis Reeves, 79, who fatally shot 43-year-old Navy veteran Chad Oulson during a Jan. 2014 screening of Lone Survivor, CNN reports. Prosecutors say Reeves argued with Oulson, who was in the seat in front of him, over his cell phone use and complained to a manager. After he returned to his seat and the argument resumed, Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, who responded by pulling out a handgun and shooting Oulson in the chest, prosecutors say. Oulson's wife Nicole was shot in the hand.

"What the evidence will show you is that Chad Oulson was shot and killed over tossing popcorn," Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said in his opening statement, per the AP. "That's no reason to kill another person." Lawyers for Reeves, who was 71 at the time of the incident, have argued that he was afraid he was going to be assaulted. He has been under house arrest, only allowed to leave for church, court, grocery shopping, or medical appointments, for most of the last eight years.The trial was held up for years while Reeves tried to use Florida's "stand your ground" law to avoid prosecution. He is on trial on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Reeves' lawyers have also argued that Oulson threw a cell phone at him, though prosecutors say witnesses did not report seeing Oulson throw a phone. Defense attorney Dino Michaels told the jury Monday that there was more to the case than thrown popcorn, the Tampa Bay Times reports. "There was an attack before the popcorn was thrown," he said. Michaels said Reeves' 27 years in the police taught him to sense danger and evaluate risks. Nicole Oulson has said her husband was texting their babysitter about their 3-year-old daughter. (Minutes before the shooting, Reeves sent a text of his own.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.