PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Curtis Reeves, the man who shot and killed Chad Oulson at a movie theater in Florida in 2014, was found not guilty on all charges Friday night.
After over three hours of deliberation, a six-person jury returned to the courtroom Friday evening and delivered its verdict. Reeves was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery of Chad Oulson’s wife, Nicole.
Reeves has never denied shooting Oulson, but has maintained that he was acting in self-defense.
The retired police captain spent several hours on the witness stand Thursday, telling a Pasco County jury about what he says happened the day he shot Oulson in the theater.
He also testified about his career in law enforcement. Reeves helped establish the SWAT team for the Tampa Police Department and ended his career as the head of security for Busch Gardens.
He told the jury he had never drawn his weapon and shot anyone in his years of service as a police officer and says he never encountered rage from anyone the way he did from Oulson the day of the shooting.
On that day in 2014, Reeves and his wife, as well as Oulson and his wife, had attended a screening of the film “Lone Survivor.” Oulson, who was sitting in a row in front of Reeves, took out his cell phone during the previews to text his daughter’s day care, the Associated Press reported. Reeves told him to stop, then went to complain to the management before coming back to find that Oulson had put away his phone, according to the outlet.
Afterward, the two exchanged words, but the argument escalated to the point where Reeves claimed he felt his life was threatened. Prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser, however, argued that Reeves’ “alpha male mindset” prompted him to shoot Oulson after Oulson had thrown popcorn in Reeves’ face, the AP reported.
Following the verdict, Reeves commended his defense team for doing a “fantastic job in bringing out the truth.”
“This is great,” Reeves said after walking out of the courthouse a free man. “It’s been a long eight years and I couldn’t wait for it to be over with.”
“I think this victory this acquittal sends a message to the community and that message is that you can’t abuse the elderly,” Reeves’ defense attorney Rick Escobar said, “and we believed all along that Mr. Reeves that day was attacked in the theater and he did the right thing defending himself.”
Chad Oulson’s wife Nicole left visibly emotional and did not stop to speak with reporters.