Well, you just knew this was coming, didn’t you? After all, we’re talking about Florida here.
Yesterday I wrote about the movie theater shooting in Wesley Chapel, Florida. The shooter, Curtis Reeves, was unhappy that the man sitting in front of him, Chad Oulson, was texting before the movie started. An argument ensued and Reeves shot Oulson dead.
Now we hear that Reeves is considering a “stand your ground” defense. Who wouldn’t in the state of Florida? After all, it’s the statewide get-out-of-jail-free card.
According to the sheriffs office:
Reeves wanted Oulson to stop texting. He walked out of the theater and complained to management. When Reeves returned to the 1:20 p.m. showing, “words were exchanged” and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, an arrest affidavit states.
Witnesses say the pair did not throw punches. Reeves pulled a gun and shot Oulson, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.
You see? Having a bag of popcorn thrown at you is life-threatening. The reasonable response is to not only hold your ground, but to also pull out your gun–which the theater prohibits, right along with texting during the movie–and shoot the popcorn thrower at pointblank range. I mean, it’s what any reasonable American would do, right?
According to the Tampa Bay Times:
Several lawyers told the Tampa Bay Times there are too many unknowns right now to determine whether stand your ground could be used successfully in court. Many factors could be relevant, said Stetson Law professor Charles Rose.
For one, when Oulson threw popcorn, that was legally an assault. But was it reasonable to respond with deadly force simply because of the popcorn? No, Rose believes.
However, it becomes more complicated if Reeves considered it to be one step in an escalating response from Oulson. If he feared Oulson would next come over the seats and physically attack him — and if Reeves felt he wouldn’t be able to handle an attack from a younger man — jurors might consider deadly force reasonable, the lawyer said.
“Here’s the problem: We’re trying to look into the mind of the defendant and posit what he thought was happening,” Rose said. “That’s often why these cases go trial — because you just can’t tell.”
Age, physical stature and each man’s strength could come into play, Rose said.
The article has a lot of interesting tidbits, including this from attorney Ron Tulin, who has built stand-your-ground defenses for clients:
Whatever the evidence shows, Tulin said he believes anyone who carries a concealed weapon and fires it needs to be prepared to deal with the judicial system.
“They need to be ready to accept the consequences,” he said, “and to leave their lives in a judge’s hands.”
Good to know we haven’t “progressed” to the point that those who kill with their concealed weapons can’t skip the justice system entirely.