Stand your ground theater shooting hearing set for Monday

- Three years after a retired Tampa Police Captain shot and killed a man during an argument in a Wesley Chapel movie theater, the shooter's stand your ground hearing is set to begin Monday.

Curtis Reeves will be in court Monday for the start of his hearing that could take up to two weeks.

"I believe this will be the largest test and the biggest Stand Your Ground motion the state of  Florida has seen," said Anthony Rickman, a Tampa attorney who has been analyzing this case for FOX 13 from the beginning.

On Jan. 13, 2014, Chad Oulson and his wife Nicole were in the Cobb Grove 16 theater. Curtis Reeves, then 71-years-old, was seated behind them along with his wife.

Oulson was on his cell phone during the previews, texting and surfing the internet, and Reeves asked him to put his phone away. The two began arguing and Reeves got up to go to the lobby. Surveillance video shows him telling a manager before returning to his seat and the argument resumed.

From there, two stories emerge.

Following the showing, Reeves told detectives his version of events.

"I'm leaning all the way back in my seat, as far away as I can to get away from him and suddenly he's  on top of me. He hit me with his fist or with something. I think he had his cell phone in his hand  because I saw the blur of the screen," he said.

Reeves' attorneys have argued that Oulson did throw his cell phone at Reeves and it hit him in the face.

Surveillance video goes on to show Oulson standing over Reeves, grabbing Reeves' popcorn and throwing  out of him before the gunshot sends Oulson staggering back.

In another portion of Reeves' interview with detectives, this exchange took place:

"So what made you shoot him?" the detective asked.

"Well I guess it scared the hell out of me," Reeves responded.

That answer, according to Rickman is the basis for Reeves' stand your ground defense.

"What was Reeves supposed to do? Wait? Sit back and wait to get that fatal blow at 71-years-old? Or meet force with force as the law allows under stand your ground?" he said. "Reeves had to make a split-second decision based on his perceptions, based on his training [in law enforcement], based on the escalated threat against him, to use force."

The other version of the story came from Nicole Oulson; the bullet that killed Chad first went through her hand, which was on his chest.

"Just to think that in the blink of an eye, my whole world just got shattered into a million pieces and now I'm left trying to pick them up and put them back together," Nicole said in the days  following the shooting.

Rickman expects prosecutors, who have never indicated they believe a cell phone was thrown, to argue  Reeves provoked the fight and that he is responsible.

"You can't apply Stand Your Ground if you initially provoke the action to which you used force against," Rickman explained, adding there's another argument that will likely come up. "He brought a gun to a popcorn fight. We've talked about that in the past, about that being the potential argument, that the use of force was much greater than what was necessary."

Rickman believes, based on the evidence, Reeves has a good case.

"I think based on looking at the video and what we see that he was justified," he said.

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