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A retired police officer who shot and killed a man after an argument in a cinema has been acquitted of second-degree murder.
Former Florida cop Curtis Reeves, 79, fatally shot Chad Oulson, 43, in 2014 after the pair became embroiled in an argument over Oulson using his phone to message his kid’s babysitter during the previews.
The pair got into a spat and when Oulson threw his popcorn at Reeves, the retired police captain pulled out his gun and shot him in the chest.
Oulson’s wife Nicole was also struck in the hand.
Reeves said he feared Oulson would ‘beat the hell’ out of him and in a police interview, he said: “I don't think I've ever had anybody get in my face like that and it scared the crap out of me.”
He previously attempted to have the case dropped, seeking protection under the state’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ law, but was denied by a judge and the case went to court.
Testifying in court, Nicole Oulson relived the incident - telling the courtroom: “I felt like my hand was blown off.
“He [Chad Oulson] took a couple of steps and then collapsed. I knew he was way worse than me.”
She also testified that her husband didn’t use profanity during the exchange.
She said: “He said, 'What's your problem? The movie hasn't even started yet’.”
After this Reeves left to complain to the cinema’s manager before returning, where the argument picked up again.
Video footage shown to the jury appeared to show Oulson grabbing Reeves’ popcorn and throwing it at him. In response, Reeves pulled out his gun and fired a single shot.
On Friday, Reeves was cleared of second-degree murder and aggravated battery charges.
Speaking after the verdict he said: “It was a sad day for everybody on both sides. It never should have happened. I never wanted it to happen.”
He was seen laughing and joking with the press, while saying he was glad the eight-year-long legal battle was over.
He said: “It was trying, not just for me, but for my family.
“It was a tough time for all of us with the restrictions and all the things that went on over the years. It was very difficult to deal with.”
He went on to say he was now looking forward to his daughter’s wedding the next day.
Oulson’s widow Nicole wept when the jury’s verdict was read out - she and other family members gathered in the carpark of Dade County courthouse, with the Daily Mail reporting they could be heard to say ‘I don't understand. I don't understand' as they cried and hugged one another.
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