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Fla. theater shooting hearing takes dramatic turn

February 7, 2014
Associated Press

DADE CITY, Fla. (AP) — A bail hearing for a retired Tampa police officer who fatally shot a man inside a movie theater during an argument over texting took a dramatic turn Friday: Prosecutors played a grainy video of the shooting and a recording of the defendant's police interview.

"If I had it to do over again, it would have never happened," Curtis Reeves told detectives. "But you don't get do-overs."

Reeves, 71, is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 13 killing of Chad Oulson, 43. Prosecutors sought to have Reeves jailed until his trial, and the bail hearing provided glimpses of the strengths and weaknesses of their case.

According to the police interview, Reeves said Oulson hit him in the face, possibly with a cellphone, and he shot in self-defense. Yet other witnesses, including Reeves' wife, told authorities they never saw Oulson strike Reeves.

Vivian Reeves did tell police that Oulson stood up and leaned over toward her husband just before the shooting, and the video appears to show some contact between the two men.

Reeves has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors also played a recording of a police interview with Oulson's widow, Nicole, who authorities said was shot in the hand by the same bullet that killed her husband.

"He kept saying stuff to my husband," Nicole Oulson said of Reeves. "Immediately it didn't even register with me, I just saw a spark and saw him go down."

She said after the shooting Reeves "just sat in his chair, he just kind of leaned back and just sat there, didn't try to help."

"As all the chaos was going on, he was just sitting there," she said.

Authorities said Reeves became upset when Oulson was texting during the previews before the matinee. The Oulsons were sitting in front of Reeves and his wife.

Witnesses said they didn't see Oulson hit Reeves, but some saw popcorn flying toward him.

"This happened so damn fast," Reeves told Detective Allen Proctor in the recording. Reeves also said a woman with Oulson, later identified as Nicole Oulson, was "holding" her husband back. Reeves faces an aggravated battery charge in that injury.

The bond hearing began Wednesday. Judge Pat Siracusa has heard from Reeves' family, friends and former colleagues who testified he didn't have any anger problems and would not be a flight risk.

Reeves told the detective that Oulson hit him in the face and that his glasses became crooked.

"It scared the hell out of me," said Oulson, adding that had he been younger, he would have "wrassled" Oulson to the ground. "The guy was very aggressive."

Reeves' wife told a detective she didn't see Oulson strike her husband, but he told her he had been hit in the moments after the shooting.

Vivian Reeves also told detectives that Oulson used expletives, but didn't make any threats. She cried during the interview with detectives and said she didn't know why her husband fired the single shot.

"He was in law enforcement 20 years, and he never shot anybody," she said. "He's never threatened anybody with a gun."

In an interview this week on ABC's "The View," Nicole Oulson said her husband was texting with their daughter's baby sitter.

Reeves "had confronted my husband several times, which my husband ignored and ignored and ignored. And it just got to a point where my husband spoke up," she said.

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Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush

 
 

 

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