- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2017

A retired police captain accused of fatally shooting another moviegoer inside a Florida cinema can’t defend himself using the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, a circuit judge ruled Friday.

Curtis Reeves, 74, argued he acted in self-defense when he opened fire inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014, killing Chad Oulson, 43.

Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge Susan Barthle disagreed in a two-page court order, denying his motion to dismiss the case in accordance with the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law — a statute that gained relevance following the 2013 slaying of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

“Because the defendant’s testimony was significantly at odds with the physical evidence and other witness testimony, this court has considerable doubts about his credibility, and is not willing to come to the conclusion that these circumstances are those envisioned by the legislature when the ‘stand your ground’ law was enacted,” the judge ruled.

“After careful consideration of all of the evidence provided in this case, this court finds that the defendant did not credibly demonstrate that he reasonably believed it was necessary for him to use deadly force in this situation,” she said.

Mr. Reeves, a former Tampa police captain, will now face second-degree murder charges over Oulson’s death. A trial date was not immediately set.

Both men were attending a matinee screening of “Lone Survivor” when an argument over Oulson’s cellphone usage escalated into violence.

In testimony, Mr. Reeves claimed the two were engaged in a “life-or-death” struggle prior to opening fire.

“[Oulson] was reaching for me,” he said. “He was getting ready to punch me. I perceived that. That’s when the pistol came out. … At that point, it was his life or mine.”

Video evidence seen by the court contradicts Mr. Reeves‘ version of events, the judge ruled.

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