Feb 8, 2022 - News

Jury selection begins for ex-cop in "Stand Your Ground" trial

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Jury selection finally began yesterday in the second-degree murder trial of Curtis Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed a young father in a movie theater in 2014 after telling the man to stop using his cell phone.

  • The shooting — which dominated the headlines because Reeves claimed self defense and asked for immunity under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law — has been delayed for eight years for a slew of reasons, including the pandemic.

Why it matters: The trial has cast a spotlight on the controversial Florida law — most notably invoked after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in 2014 — that allows a person to use deadly force anywhere he has a right to be if he's reasonably in fear of death or great harm.

Flashback: Both sides agree to the basic facts:

  • Reeves, now 79, and his wife were seated a row behind Chad Oulson, 43, and his wife, at a Monday matinee in Wesley Chapel.
  • Reeves told Oulson to stop texting during previews, and the two argued, then Reeves left to complain.
  • When Reeves returned, the conflict escalated and Oulson stood, turned, and threw a bag of popcorn in Reeves' face.
  • Reeves shot Oulson dead with a .380, then sat down, placed the gun on his lap and waited for police.

Since then: Reeves, facing life in prison, has worn an ankle monitor but has been free from jail as the case wound through a stand your ground hearing, law changes, and appeals to the state Supreme Court.

The bottom line: Reeves has said he reasonably feared for his life in the darkness of the theater.

  • If he can convince a jury of that, he'll go free.
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