NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – A former Tampa police officer, charged with killing a man in a Tampa movie theater appeared in court on Wednesday.
As previews played before the movie “Lone Survivor” was set to play in a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014, former Tampa police officer Curtis Reeves became upset a man sitting near him was texting.
Court records show Reeves went out of the theater and asked a manager to get involved, but when Reeves went back into the theater words were said and Reeves began arguing with Chad Oulson, the man who had been texting.
Security camera video from inside the theater shows the younger Oulson standing in front of Reeves. The words said between the two men were not recorded but witnesses could hear them arguing.
At some point, Oulson throws something at Reeves and Reeves shoots and kills Oulson. Reeves has never denied he killed Oulson, but he has always claimed it was an act of self-defense.
The shooting happened in 2014 and the case still has not gone to trial.
An attorney for Chad Oulson’s widow says the defense has purposely delayed the trial again and again.
“I believe the defendant is 95% responsible for all of these delays and I think it’s purposeful because I believe the defense team understands that if this guy gets one day in jail it’s a death sentence,” said attorney TJ Grimaldi.
The attorney for Reeves maintains the delays are due to a variety of legal factors and even the pandemic.,
“This case has had a series of difficulties. Let’s face it, we spent the first six months after the court denied Mr. Reeves bond, we had to go up to the second district to get that reversed, so we wasted six months in doing that,” said Richard Escobar who represents Reeves.
Escobar says the number of witnesses in the case is also a factor on the length of the proceedings.
“Well, it’s unusual for a case that has 10 or 15 witnesses, but this case has well over a hundred witnesses. You’ve got to realize this incident occurred in a packed theater,” said Escobar.
A hearing had been scheduled for the judge to hear more motions from the defense, but someone forgot to schedule a court reporter to document all of the legal proceedings and the hearing was postponed.
“You know these are things that happen in our criminal justice system and you can’t get overly worked up about it you’ve got to just keep moving on and we’ll have another day,” said Escobar who maintains his client does want to have the trial start.
“If there is anyone that wants to get this case done and completed it’s Mr. Reeves. He’s been pretty much on house arrest for these seven years,” said Escobar.
Grimaldi maintains the trial is long overdue.
“He continues to get older but he continues to spend time with his family where the victims can not,” said Grimaldi.
Another court date has been set for later in the month.