Hearing Postponed For Cop Claiming Stand Your Ground In Theater Shooting

A “stand your ground” hearing has been postponed for a retired Florida cop who killed a man in what’s called the “popcorn shooting” during an argument over the man texting on a cell phone in a movie theater.

Retired Tampa Police Department Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73, of Brooksville, is charged with second-degree battery and second degree murder in the the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding of Oulson’s wife, Nicole. Reeves shot and killed Oulson inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014 during an argument that started because Oulson was using a cell phone to text his child’s babysitter.

SEE: A Theater Shooting You May Have Forgotten About

Curtis Reeves

Curtis Reeves

Reeves is claiming self defense under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying he fired on Oulson after the younger man threw an “unknown object” at him, which turned out to be a box of popcorn, and presumably the cell phone.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that both defense and prosecutors agreed to postpone the hearing, originally scheduled for January 25, and Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Barthle has scheduled a status hearing for March 18. The judge anticipated the stand your ground hearing would be in April or May, 2016.

Stand Your Ground: The Self-defense That Isn’t

It’s true that under “Stand your Ground” it doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or not, only whether the person in their own mind feels threatened. The law does away with all reason, and provides a license to kill on a perceived threat that may or may not be real.

atomicdoug

mourning-jordan-davisA classmate of Jordan Davis, age 17, weeps outside the memorial service

Imagine for a moment that someone cuts Joseph off in traffic, or does something that endangers him. Joe follows them into a 7-11 store and confronts them. The person who cut Joe off isn’t interested in hearing the criticism and becomes belligerent. He moves towards Joe in a threatening way, and tells him to get the hell out of the store, or he’ll F- him up.  Under normal self defense laws, Joe can either retreat (i.e. leave the store), or if physical harm is imminent (for example if the other person pulled out a switchblade), Joe can legally defend himself.

But under the “Stand your Ground” law in Florida, and 20+ other Red states, if Joe feels threatened, he can pull out a concealed weapon and shoot the other person dead.  Under “Stand your Ground” it doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or…

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Oklahoma Teenager Shot By Homeowner After Doorbell Prank

A 14-year-old Oklahoma honor roll student is recovering after he was shot by a homeowner while playing a dangerous teenage game of ringing door bells as a prank in the early morning hours of New Year’s day. The homeowner was not arrested, but could face charges later.

According to KOTV, the teenager, identified as Cole Peyton of Pryor, Oklahoma, was with friends as the boys were playing the doorbell prank game, which the local police chief, Steve Lemmings, called “ding-dong ditching”. The doorbell prank is a very dangerous game in which teenagers ring a doorbell or knock, then run or hide before someone answers.

The unidentified homeowner reportedly went out to his yard and fired several shots at the boys, striking Peyton in the back and arm, with one bullet puncturing his liver. Peyton, who is on the honor roll, football, and wrestling teams at Pryor High School, is recovering in a local hospital.

Cole Peyton

Cole Peyton

Police received a call reporting a home invasion, which would justify a shooting by a homeowner, under Oklahoma’s self-defense laws.  The law states that a person who uses defensive force must know or have “reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred”.

However, police report the teens were not trying to break into the shooter’s house. This leaves open the possibility that the homeowner could be arrested. Since he has not yet been charged with a crime, police did not release his name, but said the Mayes County district attorney’s office would review the case.

Though this may not be a “stand your ground” incident, Oklahoma is a stand your ground state. The law says, “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”.

In a very similar incident in January, 2013, another 14-year-old suffered gunshots to the leg and foot when he was shot after ringing the doorbell of a house in Pennsylvania. The shooter in that case was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Tweet Of The Month: Republican Presidential Debates

This site is non-partisan but occasionally I’m compelled to throw a little virtual paper hat into the ring. Especially when no one else is shouting for an end to “stand your ground” laws.

While watching the Republican presidential debates on ABC in December, many of us may have had a feeling something was missing. Moms Demand Action made me realize what it was, and a tweet done in haste made quite an impression that night, earning it the spot as the final “tweet of the month” for 2015:

There are quite a few more opportunities to catch the candidates from both parties expound on their platforms, and we must remind them that domestic gun violence among Americans is just as much a threat as domestic or international terrorism. Here’s a schedule of debates coming up in 2016:

Republican debates

Thursday, January 14, 2016
Fox Business Republican Debate
Aired On: Fox Business Network
Location: North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, S.C.
Sponsors: Fox Business Network
Moderators: To be announced

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Fox News Republican Debate
Aired On: Fox News Channel
Location: Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, IA.
Sponsors: Fox News
Moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace

Saturday, February 6, 2016
ABC News/IJReview Republican Debate
Aired On: ABC
Location: Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
Sponsors: ABC News, IJReview.com, WMUR
Moderators: David Muir, Martha Raddatz

Saturday, February 13, 2016
CBS News Republican Debate
Aired On: CBS
Location: The Peace Center in Greenville, S.C.
Sponsors: CBS News
Moderator: John Dickerson

Friday, February 26, 2016
Republican Debate
Aired On: undetermined
Location: University of Houston in Houston, TX.
Sponsors: National Review

March, 2016
Republican Primary Debate
Aired On: Fox News Channel
Location: To be determined
Sponsors: Fox News

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Republican Primary Debate
Aired On: CNN
Location: Florida
Sponsors: CNN, Salem Media Group

Democratic debates

Sunday, January 17, 2016
NBC News Democratic Primary Debate
Aired On: NBC
Location: Charleston, S.C.
Sponsors: NBC, Congressional Black Caucus Institute
Moderator: Lester Holt

Thursday, February 11, 2016
PBS Democratic Primary Debate
Location: Wisconsin
Sponsors: PBS

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Univision Democratic Primary Debate
Location: Miami Dade College in Miami, FL.
Sponsors: Univision, The Washington Post

 

Mother Shoots, Kills Daughter By Mistake, Second Incident In 2 Years

Crime-scene-featured

[UPDATED December 31, 2015]

In a second tragic incident of its kind in two years, a Florida mother apparently in fear has accidentally shot and killed her daughter last night (Tuesday, December 29th) .

The Orlando Sentinel reports this latest shooting occurred just before midnight at a home in the Osceola County city of St. Cloud, when a sleeping mother, who reportedly works as a dispatcher for a local police department, was startled awake by the sound of someone entering the house. Thinking it was an intruder, she fired a single shot that struck her 27 year-old daughter, who was visiting from North Carolina and had just entered the house.

The young woman’s stepfather, identified by the Orlando Sentinel as detective Claude Campbell, a corporal with the St. Cloud police department, called 911. On audio of the emergency call, the grieving mother, identified as 45 year-old Sherry Campbell, can be heard in the background, apparently comforting her wounded daughter, who the Sentinel identified as Ashley Doby, and crying,”Baby, I love you so much, please!..please…Oh my God!.”

On the audio, the stepfather does not tell the dispatcher that the daughter had been shot. He reportedly had not yet realized what had transpired.

The young woman died at a hospital, while the mother was taken to the hospital for unspecified treatment. Citing law enforcement policy, police did not initially release the names of those involved because it occurred at a home of someone who works in law enforcement.

Police said evidence so far indicates the shooting appears to have been accidental. No charges have been filed as of the time of this post and an investigation is still taking place, but police say the State Attorney’s office will review the case.

Accidental shootings like this one underscore the caution that should be taken when a weapon is in a household. All residents and visitors should be made aware – especially during holidays – when someone may be visiting, that a weapon is in a home, and to always communicate before entering a home at night.

In an eerily similar shooting on November 25th, 2013, Adele Bing, 52, of Winter Haven Florida, mistakenly shot and killed her 25 year-old daughter, Ruby Bing, who was holding Adele’s 4-month-old grandchild. Adele’s boyfriend had just left after an argument, and when Ruby showed up unannounced, Adele answered the door with a gun in her hand, firing the shot that killed her daughter. The baby was unharmed.

Ruby Bing2

Ruby Bing

In another case of self-defense gone wrong, one month later in Colorado Springs, Colorado on December 23rd, 2013, 14 year-old Kiana O’Neil was accidentally killed by her stepfather, an Iraq war veteran, as she sneaked into her home through a basement window.

Kiana O'neil

Kiana O’Neil

Neither of these cases should be construed as a “stand your ground” incident. However, each would fall under a state’s self defense laws, or “castle doctrine“, which dictates that a person has a right to defend himself and family against great bodily harm or death in the home, if a person fears an imminent threat – even if by deadly force.

This article will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

Check out the self-defense laws in your state

 

A Theater Shooting You May Have Forgotten About

An all but forgotten shooting in a Florida movie theater made national news, but may not have had a mass effect. That ability seems to come from mass shootings. The murder of 43 year-old Chad Oulson by 71 year-old Curtis Reeves – which is being called the “popcorn shooting” – is a theater shooting you may have forgotten about, but is nonetheless chilling.

UPDATE: Stand Your Ground Hearing Postponed For Cop Claiming Stand Your Ground In Theater Shooting

Oulson, a Navy veteran (1990 to 1997) and avid motocross racer, was on a matinée movie date with his wife Nicole, on January 13, 2014, to see “Lone Survivor” (a movie about Navy SEALs). They sat one row in front of Reeves and his wife Vivian. Oulson was shot and killed by Reeves during an argument sparked by Oulson texting his child’s babysitter during movie previews. Reeves, a retired Tampa, Florida police captain and former SWAT leader, is claiming stand your ground immunity.

The third anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass shooting on July 20th and trial of the perpetrator that had ended July 16th, 2015 may have reminded Americans of just how vulnerable we are in public.

Century 16 theater in Aurora CO

Century 16 Theater Aurora CO

On July 23rd, 2015, exactly one week after the Aurora shooting trial had ended, news came of yet another theater shooting – this time at the MGM Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.

MGM Grand Theater Lafayette LA

MGM Grand Theater Lafayette LA

Chaos in a peaceful place of darkness where one may swap the horrors of the real world outside and feel safe with horrors on a screen also occurred during the interim between those two events. And from the moment news first came about a Florida movie theater shooting many of us just knew that “stand your ground” law would come into play. After all – it was in the “Gunshine State”, in a dark place, and reports were that it was a one-on-one confrontation.

Though police have reportedly said it was clearly not a case of self-defense, and a “stand your ground” defense was “off the table”, the man who opened fire in a Florida movie theater is quoted as saying he was “in fear” for his life, which is a required state of mind for a stand your ground defense, and has filed a claim for stand your ground immunity.

Florida Wesley Chapel Theater

The Wesley Chapel Cobb Grove 16 movie theater in Pasco County had signs posted that banned weapons. And Reeves reportedly had also berated another moviegoer a week earlier. Yet Reeves could claim that he had as much right to be in the movie theater as the victim did. He could add that he had no duty to retreat, and was in fear “of being attacked” when this healthier, younger man – Oulson (who had the nerve to be texting a babysitter) – jocked him about trying to report the infraction to the theater management.

Since Reeves (also considered a firearms expert) was armed, it probably didn’t matter to him whether or not the younger man was armed. Reeves may claim he felt an “imminent threat” for his or his wife’s safety. At that moment of sheer testosterone/PTSD-fueled fear Reeves felt what he claimed was an “unknown object” yet what may well have been hot butter, popcorn and impact of a popcorn box hitting his body, but theater surveillance video [see below] does show what appears to be a cellphone being thrown by Oulson.

Chad Oulson

Chad Oulson

Nevertheless, Reeves apparently felt a need to “stand his ground”, using his handgun, to presumably protect his life. He had been assaulted. He felt empowered. He fired a .380 caliber bullet at close range that ripped through Oulson’s chest before it struck the hand of Oulson’s wife, Nicole.

The sheriff said that Reeves’ son – a Tampa officer who was off duty – was walking into the theater when the shooting occurred. Reeves, who suffers from high cholesterol, arthritis in his hands and requires an assisted breathing machine, reportedly briefly struggled with another off-duty deputy but released the weapon. The gun jammed and Reeves was unable to fire again.

Reeves  was arrested for second-degree murder and aggravated assault. He has consistently maintained he fired in self defense. However, in a deposition on the day of the shooting. his wife, Vivian, said she did not see anything thrown at him. Reeves was initially denied bail, and jailed following the incident, but was released on bail in July 2014.

Curtis Reeves

Curtis Reeves

Though Reeves’ attorney Richard Escobar has said he thinks they have a “pretty solid stand your ground case” and have filed a stand your ground claim. The defense team bears the burden of proof (as per a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling) to show facts surrounding his innocence, his legal reasoning behind the crime, and why he should not be held accountable.

This will take place during a “stand your ground” hearing to determine whether or not Reeves is immune from prosecution. If he loses at this hearing the case would then be allotted for a judge or jury trial. If his plea is successful, he will walk free, and not have to stand trial.

You may have forgotten about that day when Chad Oulson was killed in a movie theater, but it doesn’t have to be a mass shooting in a peaceful place of darkness to have a powerfully chilling mass effect.

Man Claims Self-Defense In Killing Neighbor Over Imaginary Loud Music

Is loud music a tipping point for some people who may not like noise and have a gun? In a pre-Christmas shooting, a Missouri man is claiming self-defense after he reportedly put on a bullet-proof vest and murdered a neighbor who he thought was playing loud music no one else could hear.

Police in Maryland Heights, Missouri reported that 26 year-old James C. Blanton shot and killed 35 year-old Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang on the afternoon of December 13, when he knocked on Chang’s door complaining about “loud bass music”.

The 35-year-old Chang, a computer support specialist for an agrochemical company, was home watching a movie with his girlfriend at an apartment complex in the St. Louis suburb when Blanton knocked on the door complaining about loud music. There was an argument, then Blanton shot and killed Chang. He then sat outside Chang’s apartment and waited for police to arrive.

Blanton reportedly had a cooperative, justifying demeanor with police on the scene, telling them that he had killed Chang in self-defense, though police did not report if any other weapon was found. Blanton was being held on a $500,000 bond after being charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

James C. Blanton

James C. Blanton

Blanton had reportedly also complained other times to other neighbors about loud music, those interviewed by the St. Louis Post Dispatch say. Yet no one but Blanton could ever hear the “loud bass music” he complained about. “He’s gone to everyone’s apartment knocking about noise and music from time to time,” neighbor Kelly Miller told KMOV.

A police official said Blanton wanted Chang to ‘turn the bass down,’ but Chang wasn’t playing any loud music. It’s not known if the movie Chang and his girlfriend were watching could have been a source of any loud music.

Other incidents caused by real music have ended in tragedy. In 2010 46 year-old retired firefighter Raul Rodriguez complained about loud music coming from a children’s birthday party in Houston, told a police dispatcher he was “standing his ground” and fired a gun at a group of unarmed men, killing one and wounding two others. Rodriguez was convicted of murder, sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2013, then won a retrial after the conviction was overturned because of flaws in jury instructions. In November, 2015, he was convicted again.

Then, on Black Friday in 2012, 46 year-old Michael Dunn opened fire on a group of teenagers in an SUV during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Florida, killing 17 year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn claimed self-defense, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Dunn is currently appealing his sentence.

Why Santa Should Bypass Stand Your Ground States

For his own safety, Santa Claus might want to bypass and avoid some places in America. Soaring through the Christmas skies won’t be a problem for the guy in red, because NORAD is tracking and protecting him from airborne missiles and ground-to-air fire. He’ll be OK.

Once landing on rooftops, hopefully Santa’s sleigh is as silent as the night. Chimneys might be too hot in winter temperatures, and that’s when it could really get dangerous, but not because of a fireplace. The heat could come from gunfire.

If someone hears sounds on their roof, they could just shoot first, and ask questions later. Or, if a person in that house feels threatened by Santa or an elf, and is afraid of bodily harm, they could have that red and white outfit soaked in Santa’s blood.
Santa and stand your ground

One very tragic incident occurred two years ago, two days before Christmas Day, when 14 year-old Kiana O’Neil was accidentally killed by her stepfather, an Iraq war veteran, as she sneaked into her home in Colorado.

What many gun-owning homeowners may not realize is the difference between stand your ground law and “castle doctrine”, sometimes called castle laws. Under castle doctrine, you do not need a “stand your ground” law to defend yourself in your home. Yet, some folks may not have ever heard of the castle doctrine, and erroneously think that stand your ground law gives them special constitutional rights they didn’t already have, and that repealing stand your ground law would take away those rights.

Based on England’s 17th century doctrine that a man’s home is his castle the doctrine has been in place for hundreds of years. (in some states, a vehicle is also an extension of the castle). In the castle, or anyplace a person owns or rents and has a legal right to be, under castle law, that person also has a right to defend himself and family against great bodily harm or death, if a person fears an imminent threat – even if by deadly force.

Some states apply castle doctrine if the occupants reasonably believe the intruder intends to commit a felony such as arson or burglary. The occupant must not have provoked or instigated the intrusion nor an intruder’s threat or use of deadly force. And some states still include a “duty to retreat” clause (which means to seek safety and call – or try to call – the police first) in their self-defense laws.

SEE: Does Your State Have A Stand Your Ground Law?

In every state, the occupant(s) must have a legal right to be there, cannot be fugitive(s) or aiding/abetting other fugitives from the law, and the law can’t be used against a law enforcement officer performing his duty. In some states, the occupant must not be engaged in any unlawful activity during the encroachment, and, in most cases, the castle doctrine gives immunity from civil charges also.

Stand your ground laws change the castle doctrine by relieving a “duty to retreat” inherent in castle doctrine, and applying it to anywhere a person has a right to be. More than half of all American states have some variation of these two, distinct laws.

Concerned Puerto Rico Student Pens “Open Questions To All U.S. Christians”

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Flickr.com/doomgiver

Luis Sosa had a question. And then another. And before long, the 20-year-old pharmacy student in Puerto Rico had several different questions in his head, which made their way on to his twitter profile, each as an “open question to all U.S. Christians”. One night two weeks before Christmas, Sosa blasted a tirade of ten taunting tweets on twitter in twenty minutes, each one posing a distinct one-sentence question to ALL United States Christians.

The thought-provoking questions, which even challenged the U.S. Constitution, touched on a range of topics: racism, gun control, immigration, religion, politics, and climate change. In an exclusive interview with the movement to End Stand Your Ground, Sosa said he wanted to address his questions “mostly to young, maybe college-aged Christians like me, so they could really analyze if their current world view aligns with Jesus’.” Sosa described the response he received from the twitterverse as tepid.

Sosa said he has traveled to the mainland and has a desire to come here, but he said, “I found these sorts of things disturbing in the U.S. Christian community: Continue reading

A Manifesto of Second Amendment Responsibilities

By Roy Clymer

[The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the Bill of Rights (commonly referred to as the part that gives the “right to bear arms”) was adopted on December 15, 1791. It reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”]

It is hard to imagine that the common law (or common sense) understanding of what was expected of someone possessing a dangerous weapon did not include the following responsibilities:

 

Gun Goof

 

1. To have the knowledge and skill to use it safely and effectively;

2. To use it for legitimate purposes only;

3. To safely secure it so as to prevent unauthorized access or use;

4. To report it if lost or stolen;

5. To sell/give/loan it only to someone capable of meeting these responsibilities;

6. To have some form insurance or financial liability in case of mishap.

Given the massive illegitimate use of guns in America (murder, suicide, accidents) we must conclude that a sizeable number of firearm owners are not upholding these responsibilities, and, therefore, it is within our rights to take steps to insure that they do.

Roy Clymer is a gun owner and Vietnam combat veteran who respects people, craves knowledge and loves life.

10 Actual Reasons Why America Has So Many Mass Shootings (Nope, Not Guns!)

A satirical look at what some “gun nuts” might think are the reasons for mass shootings in America.

List of X

How can you even say that this cutest thing could possibly be responsible for something as heinous as a mass shooting??? How can you even say that something this cute could possibly be responsible for something as heinous as a mass shooting???

Last week, a high-profile mass shooting in California made headlines – but by some counts, there have already been over 300 mass shootings this year alone. As always, liberals are pushing the crazy idea that the easy access to guns is causing all these shootings. But if you ask the people who know guns, and I mean, really, really know guns – own them, shoot them, spend every waking moment with them, and at night have nightmares that Obama will take them away – they will tell you that it’s not the guns that are causing these tragedies. So here are 10 actual reasons why America has so many mass shootings.

1)  Mental illness: Mental illness is the huge problem causing gun violence. For example, the majority of the U.S. Senate just voted to…

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Does Media Coverage Of Stand Your Ground Laws Deter Crime?

Media coverage of high-profile “stand your ground” incidents in one city has a deterrent effect in some nearby cities, but not in others. In new research using a Texas shooting incident as a case study, Ling Ren, Yan Zhang, and Jihong “Solomon” Zhao examine whether or not publicity over shooting incidents where “stand your ground” law is invoked helps to deter crime – specifically residential and business burglaries. 

NOTE: This article carries the assumption that stand your ground law and castle doctrine are one and the same. However, there are distinct differences between the two laws. To learn more please visit the”About Stand Your Ground” page.

Crime scene featured

Credit: [puamelia] (Flickr, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Since the enactment of the first such law in Florida in 2005, 45 states across the US have put laws into effect generally referred to as “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” statutes. Deeply rooted in the common law tradition, a castle doctrine law empowers homeowners with the legal right to use force (even deadly force) to defend themselves and their families against an intruder. Continue reading