By Patricia L Johnson
Going to the movie theater to see the latest release has been an ongoing event in our household during winter months. It certainly is enjoyable to make a night of it and go see a movie, then go out to dinner, or vice versa. It was only a week or so ago we planned on taking in a movie but ended up being held prisoners in our home by an unexpected 18 plus inches of snow that fell non-stop.
Curtis Reeve (71), a former police officer who resigned in 1993 with the rank of Captain, from the Tampa Police Department, took his wife Vivian to the Cobb Grove 16 Theater, located in Wesley Chapel, Florida on January 13, 2014 to see the movie Lone Survivor. After retiring from the police department, Reeves went to work for Busch Gardens and eventually was promoted to Director of Security.
During the previews leading up to the movie, the gentleman in the seat in front of Reeves, Chad Oulson (43), was using his cell phone, apparently to text his young daughter. Reeve asked Oulson to stop using his cell phone and when Oulson did not comply, Reeve apparently went to find a member of management. Upon returning alone, more words took place between Reeve and Oulson with the end result being Oulson was shot dead by Reeve and Reeve was charged with Murder, 2nd degree.
Detective Allen Proctor, with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting and wrote the following complaint:
"The victim was in the theater with the defendant sitting behind him. The witnesses advised the defendant confronted the victim about texting during the movie previews and went to advise management. When the defendant returned additional words were exchanged between the victim and the defendant and the victim turned and threw a bag of popcorn at the defendant. Witnesses advised they did not observe any punches being thrown. The defendant removed a handgun and shot the suspect in the chest. During a post Miranda interview the defendant advised that he got into a verbal argument with the victim over phone usage. The defendant advised that the victim turned and stood up striking him in the face with an unknown object. The defendant advised that he removed the 380 semi auto handgun from his pants pocket firing one round striking the victim and that he was in fear of being attacked. The victim was transported to Florida Hospital were he died".
Anyone that has sat in a movie theater with the person in front of them texting knows how annoying the light and sound from the cell phone can be. Movie tickets do not cost what they used to and by the time you buy a box of popcorn and a drink, you’re looking a pretty hefty investment. We all know we shouldn’t use cell phones in certain locations, yet some of us fail to follow simple rules. In this instance a fairly young man is dead and a person that spent his entire career in service to his fellow man is being charged with his murder.
Reeve claims he shot Oulson because he was “in fear of being attacked.” Yet, there were no witnesses that saw Oulson do anything other than throw popcorn. Was Reeve really in fear of being attacked by popcorn? Since when is popcorn considered a deadly weapon?
Carson Helms, a retired Police Officer with the Tampa force who worked with Reeve, was interviewed and made the following statement about this former Officer of the Law. “In my opinion, he was the best of the best,” Helms, 59, said.
Curtis Reeve was probably an excellent officer in his time, but times change as Reeve was no longer in a position of authority when he gunned down Chad Oulson for throwing a bag of popcorn at him. Reeve was probably angry when Oulson did not immediately stop texting when Reeve approached him about it, but more than likely Reeve’s anger intensified when he went to find a member of management and came back empty handed. The popcorn incident appears to have been the last straw and Curtis Reeve pulled out his weapon, probably not in fear, but in anger and his anger has resulted in the loss of a fairly young husband and father.
Since when are officers of the law taught to shoot to kill, rather than simply stop the aggressor by wounding?
No matter what information is brought forward in subsequent investigations and the trial, the fact remains no one would be dead if Reeve didn’t have a firearm on his person.
Men that are incapable of controlling their temper do not need to have guns readily available to them.
© 2014 Patricia L Johnson