Stand Your Ground: Ga. Dropping It? Theater Shooter Claiming It?

By William Peacock, Esq. on January 17, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you didn't get enough of Stand Your Ground debates over the last two years, after Trayvon Martin's death and George Zimmerman's acquittal, we have good news for you: it's back in the headlines in two states.

The word out of Georgia is that a state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to repeal the state's version of the law, while in Florida, the question is whether Curtis Reeves, the retired Tampa police officer who allegedly shot and killed a man for texting in a movie theater, would have a plausible claim under Florida's version of the law.

Peach State Punting SYG?

Earlier this week, State Sen. Vincent Fort introduced a bill to repeal the state's Stand Your Ground law, with the support of the Rev. Bernice King and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, reports the Peach Pundit.

"On Monday, I introduced Senate Bill 280 which would repeal Georgia's 'Stand Your Ground' Law," Sen. Fort said in a press release Thursday. "This piece of legislation seeks to end the morally wrong practice of allowing individuals to shoot first and ask questions later, a startling fact that is simply unacceptable for the citizens of this state.

"I'm calling on the majority party to give SB 280 a full and fair hearing, something that they failed to do with a related bill last session," Fort's statement continued. "SB 280 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and I will be monitoring this process very closely to ensure the principles of democracy prevail over petty politics."

Popcorn, Skull Fractures, and Guns

You've probably heard all about the Florida movie theater shooting by now. Reeves, a former police officer, allegedly shot two fellow movie-goers after an argument over texting. One of the victims, Chad Oulson, was killed.

The topic of the day, with more than 1,000 articles on the subject (per Google News), is whether Reeves has a credible Stand Your Ground defense.

Curb your laughter for one second, and consider the argument, as presented by the Christian Science Monitor:

"Despite the quickly filed murder charge, however, there's a building debate in Florida about whether Reeves may be able to legally claim that he was justified in shooting Mr. Oulson, given both Reeves' advanced age and his training as a police officer.

'Elderly people are a little bit more vulnerable than regular adults, so what may give a younger person a black eye could mean a cracked skull for a septuagenarian -- that's certainly a factor that may be figured in,' says Bob Dekle, a former Florida prosecutor who's now a legal skills lecturer at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law in Gainesville."

Alright. Now you can laugh. The report goes on to relay witness accounts of what may have happened. Reeves confronted Oulson about texting during the previews. Oulson reportedly threw a bag of popcorn in response. Reeves then pulled out his .380 and shot both Oulson and Oulson's wife. Reeves told police that he was in fear for his safety.

Popcorn? Skull fractures? We're not seeing it, but what about you, seasoned local criminal law attorney? Tweet us your thoughts at @FindLawLP.

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