Ex-officer Reeves pleads not guilty to fatal cinema shooting

Family members and friends listen as Curtis Reeves appears via video conference last month. Picture: PA

A retired Florida police captain accused of fatally shooting a man in a cinema last month after a texting confrontation has pleaded not guilty at a day-long bail hearing that resembled a mini-trial.

Curtis Reeves Jnr, 71, is charged with second-degree murder as well as aggravated battery in the shooting death of Chad Oulson, 43, in Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa.

Mr Oulson died on January 13 after a row with Mr Reeves over his use of a mobile phone to text his two-year-old daughter’s babysitter, Pasco County sheriff’s deputies said.

Mr Reeves fired a single, fatal gunshot.

“That was no cause to shoot anyone,” Mr Reeves’s wife told him following the killing, the court heard.

Witness Mark Douglas Turner said Mr Oulson threw a bag of popcorn in Mr Reeves’s direction before the gunshot.

Richard Escobar, Mr Reeves’s lawyer, said his client had been defending himself and that Mr Oulson had acted in an aggressive and threatening way. The defence team also argued that Mr Reeves was entitled to special legal protection because of his age.

If convicted, he could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Circuit Court Judge Pat Siracusa tried unsuccessfully to complete a bail hearing to decide whether Mr Reeves would remain in the Pasco County Jail, where he has been since the shooting.

A bail hearing will continue today.

Mr Reeves’s daughter and family friends who spoke on his behalf described him as an honest and honourable man who deserved to be released from jail.

Mr Reeves wiped away tears during the hearing.


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