"Stand your ground" ruling could mean new hearing in Wesley Chapel movie theater shooting

Theater shooting case still not close to trial

TAMPA, Fla. — A new ruling on Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law could change the outcome for a retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed a man inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014.

Nicole Oulson’s attorney TJ Grimaldi says he can’t believe a district court of appeals ruling, saying the revised stand your ground law can apply to the Curtis Reeves case.

“Truthfully I was shocked," he said.

The new ruling could mean a repeat of last year’s lengthy "stand your ground" hearing.

After two weeks of testimony, that felt like a trial, a judge ruled that Curtis Reeves "stand your ground" claim, did not apply to the movie theater shooting.

According to a criminal complaint, Chad Oulson was sitting in front of Reeves inside the theater when the two got into an argument about Oulson’s texting during the previews. Reeves left the theater to complain to management, and when he returned, the two began arguing again. Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves and Reeves then took out his handgun and fired at Oulson, killing him.

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In the past, the defense had to prove that "stand your ground" was a valid defense.

Now after the law change, that burden of proof is on the State, instead of the defense.

“I can not fathom a world where it is ok to shoot someone and almost point blank range in the chest because they just threw popcorn at them,” Grimaldi said.

Chad Oulson's widow, Nicole Oulson, is worried she’ll have to go through another hearing before a trial ever happens.

“That was her first question actually. She was like 'Is there a chance that we are going to have to do this all over again?' And I said, 'very likely actually.'”

Grimaldi says they are still moving forward with a civil lawsuit against Cobb Theaters, it’s manager and the property owner.

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Meanwhile, he says Oulson still has sleepless nights.

Her daughter is now 6-years-old, and old enough to ask questions about what happened to her father.

“Now she knows daddy isn’t there.”

As far as what comes next, even those involved aren’t sure. But the appeals process is far from over. 

It’s very unlikely this case will go to trial any time this year. 

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