Defense to receive video of Fla. theater shooting
- Associated Press
- January 30, 2014 - 7:45 PM
DADE CITY, Fla. — Attorneys for a retired Tampa police officer accused of fatally shooting a man texting in a movie theater will be able to view surveillance video from that day, a judge ruled Thursday.
Footage is expected to show Curtis Reeves, 71, entering the Wesley Chapel theater Jan. 13 for a screening of "Lone Survivor" and then the shooting of Chad Oulsen, 43, authorities said.
Nicole Oulsen, 33, sat just behind prosecutors on Thursday as Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa in Pasco County ruled on several motions by Reeves' attorneys, including the request for access to the video.
Reeves is being held without bail, charged with second-degree murder. A bond hearing is set for Feb. 5.
Richard Escobar, an attorney for Reeves, said he expects about 75 supporters of the retired officer to attend that hearing.
"We have received an incredible amount of support," Escobar added of the defendant, a retired captain with the Tampa Police Department who was instrumental in establishing its first tactical response team.
Pasco County Sheriff's officials had said soon after the shooting that Reeves initially had asked Oulson to stop texting at the theater in Wesley Chapel, a suburb north of Tampa.
Sheriff's Detective Allen Proctor wrote that Reeves spoke to Oulson during the previews, then got up and informed management. When Reeves returned to his seat "additional words were exchanged" and Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, the report said.
After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that's when he removed a .380-caliber gun from his pants pocket, it said. The report added that Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he "was in fear of being attacked."
Prosecutors initially were unwilling to hand over the video. They said there are several hours of video footage and that their office isn't equipped to turn around copies so quickly. They also said they didn't have to share the video until 15 days after discovery, the evidence-gathering period.
But the judge exhorted them to muster up footage.
"I expect that you can provide as much (video) as you reasonably can," the judge told prosecutors.
Asked about the importance of the surveillance video after the hearing, Oulsen's attorney TJ Grimaldi replied, "It supports what happened."
Siracusa also ruled that that Reeves would be allowed to appear in the "least invasive" restraints available at his Feb. 5 hearing and could also appear in civilian clothing.
Reeves' attorneys said they want him in plain clothes in order to not prejudice potential jurors. They also asked to preserve DNA and any digital evidence that might be obtained from Chad Oulsen's iPhone. It could be very important to Reeves' defense, Escobar said.
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