The retired police captain charged with murder for the shooting death of a man in a Florida movie theater in 2014 was found not guilty during his trial Friday.
Curtis Reeves, 79, testified Thursday that he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Chad Oulson, 43, at a Wesley Chapel movie theater. The gunshot also injured his wife, Nicole Oulson, whose finger was grazed when the bullet entered her husband’s chest.
Nicole Oulson left the courtroom in tears after the verdict was read, Bay News 9 reported. Family members declined to comment to reporters outside the courthouse.
Reeves, smiling at the results of the verdict, told news outlets that his legal battles were trying for his family and that he was glad they had ended eight years after the shooting.
“It was a sad day for everybody on both sides. It never should have happened,” Reeves said. “I never wanted it to happen.
“The Oulsons and Reeves and his wife, Vivian Reeves, were attending a screening of Lone Survivor at the Cobb Grove 16 theater when Reeves asked Oulson to stop using his cellphone before the movie started.
Reeves complained to theater management before coming back to his seat and engaging in an argument with Oulson, police said.
Scott Rosenwasser, an assistant state attorney, said during closing arguments on Friday that witnesses heard Reeves urge Oulson to throw popcorn in his face during the argument.
When Oulson threw the popcorn at Reeves, he responded by pulling out a .380 semiautomatic pistol and opening fire, prosecutors said.
Reeves, who has been on house arrest with a GPS monitor since the shooting, said during his testimony on Thursday that he did not know Oulson had thrown the popcorn at him.
He told the court he saw a flash and thought he had been struck before he opened fire. He believed perhaps Oulson threw his cellphone at him and hit his glasses, WTVT-TV in Tampa Bay reported.
Prosecutors said during the trial that popcorn is not a weapon and no witness reported seeing Oulson throw a cell phone at Reeves, CNN reported.
The jury deliberated for just three hours before reaching its verdict.