Deputy who witnessed theater shooting takes stand

One of the state's most important witnesses took the stand Wednesday in the stand your ground hearing for a retired Tampa police captain accused of murdering a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014.

As an argument escalated between Curtis Reeves, then 71 years old, and 43-year-old Chad Oulson, an off-duty Sumter County deputy, Sgt. Alan Hamilton, sat a few seats away and in the same row as Reeves.

Oulson had been using his cell phone as the previews were rolling and Reeves wanted him to put it away. The dispute got heated after Reeves returned from telling a theater manager.

"My wife, she tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Hey, you may want to pay attention to this,'" Hamilton said.

Reeves testified Tuesday that he felt like he was under attack by then, as Oulson had thrown his cell phone at him and was lunging at him.

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Hamilton didn't any of that, but he did see what happened next.

"I see a, as I [said], a flick of popcorn or a burst of popcorn and then I see the muzzle blast and hear a gunshot," Hamilton said in court.

Surveillance video shows Oulson grabbing Reeves' popcorn and throwing it back at him before Reeves opened fire. Afterward, Hamilton can be seen in the same video walking over and taking Reeves' gun.

The deputy said he then listened to what Reeves was saying.

"He said, 'I can't believe what I just f------ done,'" Hamilton said.

Reeves has not indicated he said that and his wife, Vivian Reeves, has denied saying what Hamilton testified he heard her say.

"[She said], 'that was no cause to shoot that man,'" Hamilton explained. "He pointed his finger at her and told her to shut her mouth and not to say another f------ word."

That stands in stark contrast to the way Reeves has described his demeanor, which the defense has portrayed as calm and kind.

Chad Oulson's widow, Nicole Oulson, wiped away tears during Hamilton's testimony. She has said Reeves was rude and instigated the argument. The state has said Reeves overreacted to getting popcorn thrown at him.

Prosecutors plan to call at least two more witnesses Thursday before resting. The judge will have to decide if Reeves was standing his ground and, if so, he will walk free. If not the case will go to a jury trial.


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