Popcorn defense: Can accused movie shooter use stand your ground?

11:55 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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Video: Popcorn defense: Can accused shooter use stand your ground?

  • Curtis Reeves wears what police officials say is a suicide prevention vest during his first court appearance, a day after he allegedly shot two people inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater.
  • Facebook photo shows Chad and Nicole Oulson, victims of the Wesley Chapel movie theater shooting
    

 

Wesley Chapel, Florida - Stand your ground is being hotly debated in the Pasco movie theater shooting. While Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters there's no way it will "fly" in court, defense attorneys say not so fast- the fear of great bodily harm and death is the very basis of stand your ground.

"Stand your ground does not limit it to just fear of death, stand your ground permits you to use deadly force if you think you're about to suffer great bodily harm," says well-known defense attorney Stephen Romine who has handled countless high profile cases over the years.

MORE: 
Movie theater gunman ID'd as former TPD captain
- Neighbor: Theater shooting victim a family man
- Alleged movie theater shooter held without bond

Retired Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves claims a fellow patron, Chad Oulson, struck him in the face with an unknown object, which turned out to be popcorn. 

STORY: Witnesses say victim threw popcorn bag at suspect

Even though Reeves says he was in fear of being attacked, the sheriff was adamant when he told reporters, this is not stand your ground.  

"It was determined stand your ground doesn't fly here in this case," Sheriff Nocco said.

Romine told 10 News stand your ground focuses on one thing: Did somebody do something to you where you felt you were going to be harmed? If so, even if it's popcorn, you have the right to defend yourself.

In fact, Romine admits the reason the two men fought doesn't even matter. It all boils to whether or not Curtis Reeves thought Chad Oulson would hurt him. In fact, it's considered a felony if a person over 65 is struck with something as small as a marshmallow.

"What most people don't understand is, the law is not concerned with what started your argument; the law is not concerned about how petty it is," said Romine. "The law is concerned about the acts between two people- the person who died and the person who did the shooting."

By the way, this case already has a nickname. People are calling it the "Popcorn defense".

In the end, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves claims Chad Oulson was the aggressor. Experts say the next step in this case will most likely be the defense filing a stand your ground motion, and the judge will decide if it can be used.

Other related stories: 

Dad shot in theater adamant about texting daughter
Why are guns allowed where signs forbid them?
Deputies: Alleged movie theater shooter's gun jammed


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