Witnesses call Reeves 'angry man' in 'stand your ground' hearing

Curtis Reeves trial

DADE CITY, Fla. -- Day 9 of the Curtis Reeves "stand your ground" hearing on Thursday saw prosecutors wrapping up their case against the retired Tampa police captain.

Witnesses were called to cast doubt on Reeves' claim he was merely defending himself on Jan. 13, 2014, when he shot and killed Chad Oulson inside the Cobb 16 Movie Theater in Wesley Chapel. The two men had been arguing over Oulson texting during movie previews.

Prosecutors originally said they would need two more days to make their case, but they wrapped up with a barrage of witnesses with a common theme: None of them saw Oulson throw anything at Curtis Reeves. 

In fact, Chuck Cummings who was sitting just a few seats away, says he heard Reeves mumble something that sounded vindictive just before he shot Oulson. Oulson can be seen in closed-circuit video throwing Reeves popcorn at the retired officer.

“Mr. Reeves said something along the lines of 'throw something in my face," said Cummings.

Cummings was one of three witnesses in a row who described Reeves as appearing gruff and agitated as Reeves left the theater to speak with a manager about Oulson.

Cummings also recalled Oulson stumbling after the gunshot. Falling on him -- bleeding. Uttering what would be among Oulson’s last words – “I can't believe he shot me.”

 In court, Reeves' own police interview from that January 2014 day was played aloud in court.

“I don't think I've ever been that scared that quick. Does that make sense to you?” told the lead investigator, claiming from the beginning it was self-defense.

But Reeves also admitted to second-guessing himself. Expressing regret for not simply changing seats as his wife, Vivian, had suggested. 

“I'm sitting back here, I'm thinking to myself my life is ruined, his life is ruined. My family's life is ruined. His family's life is ruined,” Reeves told investigators.

Another witness, Jane Roy, told the court that Reeves bounded past her that day, and was not as mild-mannered as the now 74-year-old portrayed himself as being when he testified on his own behalf.

She described Reeves as, “Somebody who is mumbling and walking quickly, and not being concerned with crossing over people and not saying excuse me when you go by. That strikes me as an angry man."

There was similar testimony from Derrick Friedhoff. An an off-duty nurse in the theater that day, he tried to stabilize Oulson.

As Friedhoff described life flowing out of the 43-year-old gunshot victim, Chad's wife, Nicole, cried. 

“His pupils were fully blown and dilated. They would not constrict a light. Which means, everything above his brainstem was becoming hypoxic, so he was already starting to diminish” said Friedhoff.

By wrapping up testimony Thursday, prosecutors were able to give themselves and Reeves’ defense attorneys enough time to make their closing arguments Friday in front of Judge Susan Barthle.

The judge said she would spend the next few days after that reviewing testimony and make her ruling sometime within the next week. 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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