The trial's deliberations began on Friday, and the six-member jury delivered its verdict late at night, according to news outlets.
Retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves was charged for second-degree murder in the killing of Chad Oulson at a suburban theater on January 13, 2014.
Defense attorney Richard Escobar stated that Oulson (43), made Reeves (then 71) reasonably believe his life was in peril by turning, shouting and reaching towards him. Reeves' nearly 30-year-old law enforcement experience and extensive training in the use of deadly force justified his decision to shoot. Escobar stated that Reeves did not have to wait for him to be hit before he could defend himself.
Escobar stated that Reeves had "more knowledge, more experience and more study in that field than anyone else in this courtroom." It's a dangerous place.
Scott Rosenwasser, the prosecutor, countered that Oulson was killed by Reeves because he threw popcorn at his face. This angered Oulson as it violated his self image of an "alpha male".
Rosenwasser stated, "He didn’t fear anything."
Most of the facts are undisputed. Reeves was not acquainted with Oulson. The Oulsons and Reeves had been to matinee to see "Lone Survivor" about Afghanistan War. They were seated in the back row with Oulsons slightly in front.
Oulson, who was 22 months old at the time of the previews, continued to text his daughter's day-care provider despite being told to switch off cellphones. Reeves approached Oulson and asked him to stop. Reeves said politely that Oulson's widow and others thought it sounded like an order. Reeves complained to the manager after Oulson refused to comply, possibly with profanity. Reeves saw Oulson's phone gone when he returned and told Oulson that if the manager had known, he wouldn’t have told him.
Over the next few seconds, the stories diverge. Oulson grabbed Reeves popcorn and flicked the popcorn back at Reeves. Reeves pulled out his.380 pistol and shot one shot. Oulson was killed and Nicole Oulson, Nicole's wife, nearly lost her finger.
Escobar stated that the evidence supports their contention that Oulson, prior to being shot, threw his phone at Reeves striking him in the face. Then, Oulson appeared ready and willing to climb over the chairs and attack him.
Thursday's testimony by Reeves revealed that he has never met someone so out-of-control in his law enforcement career and that he was afraid he would be killed. Reeves claimed that he couldn't have defended himself without shooting, due to his arthritis, age and other ailments.
Escobar stated that the time between the popcorn tossing and the shot was less than three-quarters seconds. He said that it was too fast to be the reason Reeves fired.
Escobar declared, "It is impossible."
Rosenwasser argued that Reeves' story is a liar. The prosecutor stated that security video doesn't show Oulson throwing his phone and that Reeves did not sustain any injuries from the impact. The video shows Oulson reaching for Reeves' popcorn bag and throwing it at him. Witnesses said they heard Reeves utter "throw popcorn at my!"
Rosenwasser said that Reeves' story of fearing for his own life and Oulson's inability to control Oulson was all fabrications. Rosenwasser stated that they are designed to hide the fact Reeves had an "alpha male mindset", which he enjoyed the adrenaline rush of being SWAT commander and police officer. Rosenwasser stated that Oulson killed himself in anger after being challenged and having popcorn thrown at him.
Reeves claimed that he never fired his gun while he was going through the robbery/homicide, fugitive arrest and SWAT. Yet, this movie theater dispute over a cell phone escalated to the point Reeves had to confront the most out-of control, scariest person he has ever encountered and had to film.
He said, "In all his career that is the most scared he has ever been?" Rosenwasser stated that it was "absolutely unreal".