A deadly movie theater shooting on Monday afternoon in Florida has shed new light on the state's controversial "stand your ground" law. Fox News reports that after a retired police captain opened fire and killed a fellow moviegoer for texting in the theater, cops initially considered whether the stand your ground law applied in the case.
As a dispute over texting during the movie previews escalated, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves pulled out a gun and shot 43-year-old Chad Oulson in the chest, according to MyFoxTampaBay.com on Jan. 13.
Unbelievably, cops initially considered whether to even charge the shooter, weighing if Florida's "stand your ground" law was applicable. Ultimately the decision was made that the law did not apply and the suspect was charged with second-degree homicide.
Both the suspect and the victim were at the Cobb CineBistro in Wesley Chapel with their wives for a 1:20 p.m. viewing of "Lone Survivor". Oulson allegedly was texting and making some sort of noise that spurred an altercation with Reeves.
A witness said the agitated suspect got up and left in an apparent attempt to find theater management. He returned alone and the argument continued.
Witness Charles Cummings said he heard the victim say he was texting his 3-year-old daughter just before Reeves pulled out a pistol and shot him.
Oulson's wife Nicole apparently tried in vain to shield him and was shot through the hand before the bullet entered his chest. Her injuries were described as non-life-threatening.
"I heard the victim say, 'I can't believe...', then he fell on us", Cummings said. "I asked if the guy was OK, and he started gurgling blood and then fell", recalled Cummings' son, who then ran to call 911.
An off-duty police officer also inside the theater was able to grab the gun and detain Reeves until deputies arrived, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco explained.
Reeves, a 71-year-old retired Tampa police officer, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. After retiring from the Tampa police force as a captain in 1997, he supposedly took a job as director of security for Busch Gardens.
Nocco said his detectives considered if this could be a "stand your ground" case but decided the criteria did not apply. This points out a major flaw with the controversial law.
The fact that police departments are adjudicating at the scene of a crime what should be handled in the courts. Has Florida learned nothing from the George Zimmerman case?
The theater chain's website lists prohibited items and actions. Among them are no cell phone use, including texting, in the theater auditorium. And no weapons allowed.