'Why didn't he just sit somewhere else?' Sheriff rips apart 'Stand Your Ground' defense of ex-cop who shot dead father for texting in movie theater
- Sheriff says there is no chance for a 'Stand Your Ground' defense
- Sheriff Chris Nocco has dismissed Curtis Reeves' claims that he shot the victim out of fear
- Reeves shot 43-year-old Chad Oulson in the chest after a confrontation
- Nicole Oulson was shot in the hand as she tried to protect her husband
- Terrified movie-goers say they heard arguing and saw popcorn being thrown before gun was fired
- Reeves claims he feared for his safety after being hit by an unknown object
- 71-year-old, who is facing life in prison, appeared in 'suicide smock' during video link court hearing
By WILL PAYNE IN LAKE O' LAKES, FLORIDA
PUBLISHED: 22:35 EST, 16 January 2014 | UPDATED: 23:10 EST, 16 January 2014
The Sheriff leading the investigation into the cinema shooting which happened after a row over texting has told MailOnline there is no chance of a Stand Your Ground defence, saying, ‘It was an empty movie theatre. If he was scared why didn’t he move seats?’.
Sheriff Chris Nocco has completely dismissed shooter Curtis Reeves’ claims that he gunned down Chad Oulson because he feared for his safety and said there is no way he can use Florida’s controversial self-defence law.
He is convinced the retired cop, 71, simply lost his temper after married father-of-one Oulson refused to stop texting and then threw a bag of popcorn at his killer’s face.
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Dismissed: Sheriff Chris Nocco doesn't buy Curtis Reeves' claim that he shot Chad Oulson in self defense
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco (C) speaks to the media as police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida
Charges: Reeves, wearing a green 'suicide smock' appears via video link at a hearing on Tuesday
Deadly shooting: Chad and Nicole Oulson (pictured with their three-year-old daughter) were shot in a movie theater over cell phone texting
Reeves’ attorney Richard Escobar suggested on Wednesday that his client was not hit with popcorn and was actually attacked with another more dangerous object.
However Sheriff Nocco has completely dismissed that idea, saying nothing else was thrown and that Monday’s shooting is an open and shut case.
Speaking to MailOnline the Pasco County Sheriff said: ‘Stand Your Ground is a hot topic in Florida. Even if you have a clear Stand Your Ground case then you still have to work incredibly hard to prove that is valid.
‘So from our perspective, if we think it is going to be used as a defence we have to prove why it’s not relevant. We immediately brought in our states attorney’s office to work with us after Monday’s shooting.
‘I remember very clearly that we stood outside the movie theatre, got all the detectives over and said, ‘what do we think we’ve got here? Is this a Stand Your Ground case?’ Everyone said, no way, this is not Stand Your Ground.
‘One of the key elements is that the theater was not packed so there was ample opportunity for anybody to move their seat if they wanted to.
‘From our investigation it seems simply that the agitation of someone using their cell phone to text has caused this.
All the evidence and witness statements we have point that way.
‘The suspect was sitting there, they had an argument about texting, the victim turned around, threw something, a shot is fired and the next thing you know a man is dead.’
Support: Family and friends of Reeves attend his Tuesday morning hearing
Richard Escobar, the attorney for Reeves, talks to reporters after his client's first hearing
Stoic: Retired police captain Reeves barely spoke during the short hearing
Former Tampa Bay police captain, Reeves was in the Wesley Chapel theater with his wife Vivian watching ‘Lone
Survivor’ when he asked Oulson to stop using his phone.
Oulson, 43 – who was with his wife Nicole – was texting the babysitter looking after his two-year-old daughter Lexy and he refused to stop.
Reeves went out to get a manager, came back alone and continued the row. Nocco explained: ‘We believe the manager didn’t have a full conversation with the individual because he was dealing with other customers.
‘But the fact the suspect had the ability to go and see the manager, shows he had the ability to move his seat.’
Soon after the row restarted, Oulson threw a bag of popcorn in Reeves face and the older man drew a pistol from his pocket.
Nicole Oulson desperately tried to shield her husband, but Reeves fired his weapon and the bullet passed through her outstretched hand and hit Oulson in the chest.
Reeves then placed the gun on his thigh and calmly sat down, before being restrained by an off-duty deputy. His gun was jammed when it was recovered and investigators are not sure whether he tried to fire a second time.
Sheriff Nocco said: ‘After he shot his weapon he put it down. It was jammed when he put it down on his thigh.
‘I can’t tell you if he was trying to shoot again, or what he was doing. We will look at the gun to see what happened In the future, but that isn’t relevant to the second degree murder charge at present.’
Today Richard Escobar was quoted as saying something more than popcorn was thrown. He told The Tampa Bay Times: ‘If it was popcorn, don't you think the detective would have written popcorn? It's an unknown object, dark in color. Those facts will come out.’
But Nocco hit back: ‘There is absolutely nothing to prove anything else was thrown.’
Since the shooting a couple, Jamira and Michael Dixon have said they had a run in with Reeves in the same cinema back in December after they used their cell phone.
Senseless killing: Nicole Oulson was shot in the hand and Chad Oulson shot fatally in the chest
Sheriff Nocco says they are looking into the claims and they could help the case against father-of-two Reeves.
He said: ‘Other people are now saying this happened to them. We are currently trying to verify those statements, using credit card statements to make sure they were definitely at the movies when they said they were. If we can verify that then it gives us even more to go on.’
Devastated Nicole was released from hospital on Monday evening. She had surgery on her hand on Wednesday and has now returned to the family home in Land O Lakes. Over the past few days a steady stream of relatives have arrived at the property to look after her and Lexy.
The family has said very little since the tragedy, but Chad Oulson’s sister Kip Hoosier did talk to The Quincy Herald Whig, based in her home state of Illinois, earlier this week.
Describing her brother, she said: ‘He loved to have fun. He was a joker, a kidder. He smiled and laughed all the time.
‘He works in a motorcycle shop. He was an avid motorcycle rider, a dirtbike rider, but he gave that up when his wife got pregnant with their baby to be a father and not be so daring with his life.’
Describing the terrible moment Nicole broke the news to Chad’s mother, Kip said: ‘It happened at 1 p.m. Nicole was on the phone with my mom before a quarter after. She wasn’t at the hospital. She was still at the theater.
‘It was completely senseless, just a sad situation. We haven’t even dealt with the reality of it yet.’
Her brother’s killer is currently being held in Land O’ Lakes jail after he was denied bail at a court hearing on Tuesday.
He appeared before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Pasco County via video conference, standing at a podium wearing an olive-colored padded vest and handcuffs.
Grim task: Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, front, walks out to update reporters after an argument between patrons over texting sparked a shooting that left one person dead and another injured today
Richard Escobar told the court that Reeves has close ties to the community, posed no danger to residents and was no threat to flee.
Later, outside the courtroom, Escobar told reporters his client was "heartbroken" that a life was lost in the shooting.
Reeves served in the Navy and the Navy Reserves before joining the Tampa Police Department in 1966, where he was a commander for around 17 years. He also worked as a homicide detective, property crimes detective and instructor.
He retired in 1993 as captain. Tampa police told CNN that he was instrumental in establishing the department's first Tactical Response Team - also known as SWAT.
Throughout his career, he consistently received good evaluations, praising his work ethic and leadership.
A 1992 evaluation states: 'Capt. Reeves is highly adept at recognizing potential problems and utilizing available information to achieve positive results. He is frequently called upon to develop and implement department-wide programs concerning firearms and civil disorder.'
He also worked on several high-profile security details, including those of presidential candidate Ross Perot, Vice President Dan Quayle, President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
He was rarely criticized, but in 1971, his supervisors said he needed to make a "marked improvement" after he demonstrated a "get-by attitude".
Police tape surrounds the Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida, January 13, 2014. A moviegoer shot and killed one person and wounded another on Monday when an argument over text messaging in the Florida theater
Aftermath: Curtis Reeves was led away in handcuffs wearing a white jumpsuit after police removed his clothing for evidence
Heated argument: The former cop and the victim argued before Reeves shot Oulson in the chest, killing him
In 1979 an evaluation cited problems with his temperament. It stated: 'His demeanor is generally very professional.
He has, however, occasionally allowed his temper to detrimentally affect his manner of dealing with his supervisors.'
Following his retirement, he served as director of security for Busch Gardens Tampa until 2005. WFLA has reported that the keen hunter served as president of the Hernando County Crime Stoppers program from 2006 to 2007. He has been married to his wife, Vivian, since 1967 and as well as son Matthew, they have a daughter called Jennifer and one grandchild.
Chad’s former colleagues at Sky Power Sports have set up a Facebook page to raise money for Nicole and Lexy.
Mayhem: Curtis Reeves was reportedly furious that Chad Oulson was texting during the previews, sparking an argument that ended with Oulson dead
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