Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge postpones decision on whether public can see movie theater shooting video

DADE CITY — A judge will decide today whether the public should be allowed to see surveillance video taken from inside the auditorium at last month's shooting at a Wesley Chapel movie theater.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa issued a temporary ban on the public release of the footage that captures the shooting of 43-year-old Chad Oulson, who died Jan. 13 after an argument with retired Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves Jr. over texting during the previews to Lone Survivor.

Authorities said Reeves, 71, argued with Oulson, who was messaging his daughter's babysitter. Reeves left to complain to management and returned alone. The argument continued, police said, and Reeves pulled a .380 pistol from his pants pocket and shot Oulson in the chest. The bullet also injured Oulson's wife, Nicole, who had put her left hand in front of her husband.

Reeves' attorneys have said their client was hit with popcorn and an "unknown dark object" and felt threatened. They alleged in a motion that the second-degree murder charge against their client was misapplied and that Oulson committed two acts of battery on Reeves, who is entitled to special legal protection because of advanced age. Reeves also is charged with aggravated battery in connection with Nicole Oulson's injury.

The defense had asked for the video last week, and Siracusa ordered the state to turn it over. But the Tampa Bay Times and other news organizations filed public record requests for copies, which prosecutors feared could run afoul of a new state law that bans anyone except a surviving family member from viewing any record "depicting the death of any human being."

Siracusa said "this is America" and that Reeves is entitled to the footage, which the state turned over Tuesday to Reeves' attorneys.

But the defense has not yet viewed it to decide how they might argue against its public release. They expressed concerns that releasing it could taint prospective jurors.

Prosecutors, who had said in a motion filed Monday that they planned to show video excerpts during today's bail hearing, said they want to be sensitive to Oulson's family. They said they don't object if the judge views it privately at a hearing today that will serve as bail hearing and arraignment for Reeves. Assistant State Attorney Damien Kraebel said the video, which is partially in black and white and dimly lit, is not graphic.

Anne Arsenault, an attorney for the Tampa Bay Times, filed a motion Tuesday that the video be released. If the judge decides to add restrictions, she argued, they should be tailored as narrowly as possible. The ban on death depictions allows a judge to release material if "good cause" can be established.

Richard Escobar, one of Reeves' attorneys, said Tuesday that he would like the judge to review all evidence in the file before it is released to the media.

"We need some sort of process," he said. "This is a high-profile case."

Nicole Oulson said it was "very nice" of the judge to delay a decision on the video's release.

One of her attorneys, TJ Grimaldi, said they would defer to prosecutors on the matter.

"Our goal is to see that justice is done," he said.

Judge postpones decision on whether public can see movie theater shooting video 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  2. Pinellas legislators talk governor's race, policy at delegation breakfast


    If anybody was expecting state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to quit being coy and and announce his bid for the 2018 governor's race to the friendly crowd at Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative delegation breakfast Wednesday, they left disappointed.

  3. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  4. Florida Orchestra and Tampa Bay Master Chorale scrap search for a joint conductor


    TAMPA — After a yearlong effort, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Orchestra have abandoned their search for a conductor capable of leading both groups.

    Doreen Rao conducts a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra in December 2010. Photo by Enid Bloch.
  5. New in theaters July 4 weekend: 'Despicable Me 3,' 'Baby Driver,' 'The House,' 'The Beguiled'


    OPENING Thursday:


    One of Hollywood's most successful animation franchises isn't about "me" anymore; it's about them.

    Gru (Steve Carell) squares off against Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) in Despicable Me 3.