Curtis Reeves is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Chad Oulson. You can read all about this story in any number of places. Here's one that better than most - From CNN: Dad'S Texting to Daughter Sparks Argument, Fatal Shooting in Movie Theater, By Steve Almasy.
People are astounded by this, and in retrospect, arm chair quarterbacking it all the way, I'm not. Keep reading to find out why, with the usual foul language warning coupled with a standard politically incorrect and unpopular opinion disclaimer.
Way back when, in the bad old days, Big Mike and Shotgun Bob went to see a talkin' picture show. Amazing, right? After the obligatory 45 minutes of commercial messages and film trailers (previews of coming attractions), the show starts.
A few rows back and on the other side of the isle were two unsupervised African American youths, one of whom was talking to the other in a somewhat louder than normal tone of voice. I suppose he wanted to be certain his friend could hear him over the din of the film. Shotgun Bob took exception to this, and so got up, walked back to the two and politely requested they keep it down so he could enjoy the film. The fellow in the aisle seat declined to accede to Shotgun Bob's request, which prompted old Bob to repeat what he believed to be a reasonable request in a louder voice. The ensuing argument quickly devolved into a series of base insults and crude accusations of racism, and one or the other party offered to take the argument outside.
The most vocal of the two got up and preceded Shotgun Bob up the aisle and out the door. As soon as the youth in question crossed the threshold he ran for the exit. Shotgun Bob shrugged the whole thing off and returned to his seat, there to enjoy the film. Note that this whole business could have easily had a different outcome. The offender could have apologized and changed his behavior, but he didn't. The offender could also have been cognizant of offending other people and so behaved accordingly, but he didn't. Rhetorically, why? Because people do dumb things, that's why.
In this case there's a 71 year old ex-cop, but that's kind of an understatement. Curtis Reeves spent his entire adult life telling people what to do and dealing with a combination of criminals and type A personalities. Given that Reeves was a captain in the Tampa police department, he very probably didn't get or tolerate much back talk from his subordinates, which, when you come right down to it, was pretty much everyone he dealt with on a daily basis. He was a cop. No smart civilian argues with a cop, least the civilian be arrested for resisting arrest. Reeves gets to pack a gun, wear a blue uniform and a badge. He started the Tampa PD SWAT team, an officially legal group of JBTs that make their living kicking in doors, shooting cocker spaniels (because they felt threatened, and we can't have that, can we?) and terrorizing mere civilians.
Reeves retired from the Tampa PD and got a nice position as head of security for Bush Gardens. Again, he gets to order around type A personalities and mere civilians, and there are damned few people that can tell Curtis Reeves anything that he doesn't want to hear.
Now consider Chad Oulson. He's 43 years old, married with one three year old daughter. Chad works at a dealership that sells ATVs, motorcycles and PWCs. His wife sells insurance. Chad is a regular guy, average intelligence and probably completed high school. Maybe some college, maybe not. He and his wife work different shifts, so life can be a little tough at times.
Put these two men together in a shared space along with their wives and see what happens. Mind you, this is a public space. It's shared. That means that the users, the people sharing the space, should be cognizant of other people's comfort and take pains to avoid offending the others.
Chad Oulson didn't do that. Chad (with his wife's approval) decided it would be more enjoyable for him to text his three year old daughter. Never mind that the kid can't read or write, this is daddy interacting with his little girl. How precious, right?
The thing is that texting is annoying. It annoyed Reeves, and he asked Oulson to stop. And that's when Oulson did something rude and stupid. Oulson refused. No one was going to tell Oulson what to do, least of all some old man.
Reeves could have ignored this. He could have shrugged and decided that Oulson was just another asshole that everyone encounters on a daily basis, and Reeves and his wife could have moved to different seats. But then, why should he? Reeves considers himself a polite, considerate sort and believes (reasonably so) he should be accorded the same treatment from others. Golden rule and all that.
So Reeves went to the authorities with his complaint, which is arguably the right thing to do under these circumstances. But the authorities, if they're anything like the theater authorities I've had to deal with, don't give a shit. They've already got Reeves's money; why bother with anything?
When Reeves returned to his seat, there was a verbal exchange. Presumably Reeves repeated his request, likely with a little heat. This is when Oulson makes his incredibly stupid mistake. Oulson taunts Reeves and throws popcorn at him. Now Reeves is 71, and he knows from experience what a brawl is like. Even if he can take Oulson, and he probably can't as Oulson is tall and physically fit, he'll get busted up trying. This very likely wasn't so in the bad old days. In the bad old days Reeves would have flashed his badge, and if that didn't work he would have called for backup and eventually Oulson and his wife would have been arrested, given a hickory massage and charged with assaulting an officer of the law, resisting arrest, creating a public disturbance… well, you get the idea. But that was then and this is now, and all Reeves can see is Oulson laughing at him.
So Reeves pulls out his gat and puts lead in the air.
Curtis Reeves is being charged with second degree murder. Chad Oulson is dead. Oulson's wife has a bullet hole in her hand, a major, major trauma in her life and a three year old daughter that isn't going to understand much except that Daddy isn't coming home anymore. Ever.
It's very likely that Chad Oulson was something of a jerk. It's a better bet that he was just ill-mannered and behaved badly on occasion. Being tall and physically intimidating allowed him to get away with his bad behavior on a regular basis. All that being the worst case scenario, Chad Oulson did not deserve to get shot to death by Curtis Reeves.
A few months ago I went to see a movie with Main Lady. After we sat down and made ourselves comfortable, a twenty-something female and her boyfriend sat down in the row behind us. The girl promptly put her feet up on the back of the chair next to me, so that her dirty damned tennis shoes were ten to twelve inches away from my head. That's rude, inconsiderate behavior and I was offended. I briefly entertained thoughts about how much fun it would be to quietly take out my pistol, hold the muzzle an inch or so from the sole of her shoe and torch one off. I carry a double-action automatic in 9x18 Makarov, which translates into a .380 on steroids. Likely the bullet would go through her foot, exiting in a nice spray of blood and tissue that would get all over her and her boyfriend. She would probably feel like her foot was hit with a hammer, then there would be a great deal of pain, shock and confusion. Main Lady and I could make an exit out the door while the rest of the sheeple were trying to figure out what was going on. The very few who were in the know would be headed for the door as well, but I doubt they'd try stopping an armed sociopath. If I were ever questioned by Five-Oh, I could explain that I was there, I didn't see the shooter and I took off seconds after the shot was fired. Who could argue with that?
But Main Lady wouldn't approve, so I just reached over and tapped the bottom of her sneaker. She promptly moved her feet.
So what, you may well ask, is the point here? It's this. We, the Great Unwashed, are not alone in this world. Be considerate of others. Don't make other people miserable, even if they are insufferably rude pigs that don't deserve any consideration from anyone. More importantly, if you pack your gat, put a safety on your temper before you go out in public.