DADE CITY, Fla. -- A retired Tampa police captain accused of shooting a man in a movie theater took the stand Tuesday during a so-called Stand Your Ground hearing.
Curtis Reeves, now 74, faces a charge of second-degree murder for shooting Chad Oulson on Jan. 13, 2014. Reeves has invoked Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, claiming he shot Oulson in self-defense.
The judge will decide if “stand your ground” applies in this case. The law says a person has no duty to retreat when faced with a violent confrontation and can use deadly force if he or she fears death or great bodily harm.
If she rules that it does, Reeves will be immune from further prosecution on both charges.
Reeves shot 43-year-old Oulson during an argument over texting as movie previews played.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the altercation that led to the shooting, Reeves said he opened fire because he felt threatened by Oulson’s actions.
Reeves said before the confrontation, “When I looked up, he was coming over the seat at me.” Reeves said Oulson struck him and began yelling and swearing.
“I realized then that I was in a life or death struggle,” Reeves said. “All of a sudden, he was no longer a loudmouth, he was now a very definite threat.”
He said he reached for his pistol and fired.
“At that point, it was his life or mine,” Reeves said.
When questioned by an attorney whether he thought Oulson would hurt him, Reeves replied, “No question about it.” When asked whether he wanted to fire, Reeves said, “Absolutely not.”
Prosecutors say Reeves provoked the confrontation.
The hearing is in its second week and continues Wednesday.