Popcorn defense? Really? Did the Florida movie shooter, upset at someone texting who threw popcorn at him, really think the popcorn was a weapon? The “stand your ground” defense wouldn’t apply here anyway but everyone is missing the real issue.
There are criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors all over TV discussing the legal issues concerning the alleged popcorn movie theater shooter. I believe they are all wrong!
The answer has to do with the piece of the puzzle which is still missing. Why? Why did Curtis Reeves, a highly skilled veteran police Captain reported as instrumental in creating the Tampa Police department’s first tactical response team lose the skills and reasoning he once had?
There are several important clues which lead me to one very possible explanation:
- He was 71 years old.
- He told police he feared the man was going to attack him.
- The first Pasco County Deputy to see Curtis Reeves, said the suspect was very calm as he sat in his chair and had an almost distant stare toward the screen.
- It has been reported that Curtis Reeves had one or possibly two previous incidents involving texting at a movie theater and had “stalked” a woman when she left her seat to go to the bathroom.
- It has been reported that he is “the nicest guy” and that there were no negative comments in his employment record except a 1979 evaluation stating he had shown a temper when dealing with supervisors.
I believe Curtis Reeves is at the beginning of dementia. My father recently passed away just short of 93. He was also always described by people as extremely nice and charming, although at times, he could be difficult. Two years earlier he was diagnosed as beginning dementia. This really didn’t show up, almost no one knew it, and he continued to drive and work full time for another two years until one day before he went into the hospital with pneumonia caused by aspirating food or water due to a swallowing problem from vascular dementia.
Two years ago, I noticed very subtle changes in my father’s personality such as slight paranoia and other thoughts such as that everyone on his block was getting rich in the stock market because they all had expensive cars. The cars were normal late model leased cars. He also started getting aggressive at times and even physical on a couple of occasions.
When my father went to the hospital and then rehab, I found that many patients with dementia get aggressive. In fact, last month there were not one but two incidents reported on the news of a nursing home patient murdering another patient.
Curtis Reeves was only 71, but dementia can come at any age and is not uncommon at 71. A CT scan could show if he is suffering from vascular dementia. It should be noted that no one may have ever thought he was getting dementia. We didn’t realize for a long time with my father.
There is no possible defense to shooting the movie theater patron for throwing popcorn but it may just be that the shooter lacked the mental capacity to commit a crime and could explain why a highly respected Police Captain killed someone for throwing popcorn.