It has been over seven years since 43-year-old Chad Oulson went to a movie theater for date with his wife — and didn’t return home with her to their 22-month-old daughter.
During the movie previews, Oulson checked his phone to see if he had any messages from the daycare watching their daughter. She had been teething which could cause a fever, and Oulson wanted to make sure everything was okay before the movie started.
This action angered Curtis Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain, who was sitting behind Oulson.
After an altercation, Reeves pulled out his gun, fired one shot, and killed Oulson.
Reeves shot and killed Oulson in a movie theater filled with eye-witnesses that included an off-duty cop, retired FBI agent, former military member, and nurse. Yet, seven years later, the case is still not resolved. Reeves has spent most of the years since the encounter out of jail, living at home under house arrest.
Delay after delay has prevented Oulson, his wife, and daughter from getting justice.
A Seven-Year Delay for Justice
TJ Grimaldi has represented Oulson‘s widow, Nicole, since Chad’s death in 2014. Since then, Grimaldi has seen Reeves’s defense team use every stall tactic possible to prevent the case from going to trial and prevent the retired Tampa police captain from going to jail.
“The defendant claims he wants his day in court, but it is very clear that the defense is taking every opportunity to delay this as much as possible,” says Grimaldi.
Reeves’ defense team has used a variety of stall tactics.
At the beginning, the case was delayed due to a debate over whether or not it was a “Stand Your Ground” case. Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, individuals can use deadly force as a means to protect themselves without first retreating from the threat.
A Stand Your Ground claim can prevent an individual from standing trial. In some cases, individuals are granted immunity from prosecution. They don’t need to use Stand Your Ground as a defense at trial. Instead, individuals can avoid trial altogether.
Reeves’s legal team spent years trying to use the Stand Your Ground defense. Changes to the law led to multiple hearings and eventually, a wait on a Florida Supreme Court decision, all creating substantial delays for the case.
Now, the courts have finally determined that this is not a Stand Your Ground case and set a trial date.
Trial Date Set for 2022
The trial is set for three weeks in February of 2022.
Oulson‘s family is getting closer to seeking justice for Chad, but Grimaldi is worried that they will have to wait even longer.
Reeves’s defense team continues to look for ways to delay the case.
“The defense is planning to file ten to fifteen motions before the trial. I also anticipate that they will appeal any motions they don’t win, delaying the case even more,” says Grimaldi.
Motions and subsequent appeals could potentially push the trial back to a later date.
“Each day this case isn’t tried and Reeves out of jail is a win for the defense,” says Grimaldi. “It’s embarrassing. The system should not allow you to not have justice.”
Grimaldi continues to fight for the Oulson family, pushing the courts and state prosecutors to move the case forward and keeping the story alive in the media, hoping exposure will help bring justice.
“It’s sad that this case has taken so long. Families should not have to wait this long to get justice for their loved ones,” says Grimaldi.