The senior citizen who is accused of fatally shooting a fellow moviegoer in January 2014 in Florida has taken the stand and for the first time, describing the moment he claims he was forced to shoot.
"It was his life or mine," defendant Curtis Reeves, 74, said in court Tuesday.
When asked by an attorney if he felt that the deceased, Chad Oulson, was going to hurt him, Reeves said, "No question about it."
Reeves, a retired police captain, had taken his wife to see a matinee of the Mark Wahlberg film Lone Survivor at a Tampa theater.
As the previews were playing, Reeves told the guy sitting in front of him, 43-year-old Oulson, to stop texting.
Reeves said the younger man responded with a foul-mouthed tirade. He said Oulson then climbed over the seat towards him.
"I realized then that I was in a life or death struggle," Reeves said. "All of a sudden, he was no longer a loudmouth. He was now a very definite threat."
The former cop added: "He was getting ready to punch me and I perceived that at some point. And that's when the pistol came out."
When asked by a lawyer what he did with that pistol, Reeves did not hesitate, saying, "I shot him."
The slain man's widow, Nicole, sat in court as Reeves testified for five hours.
Surveillance video was played in court that showed the victim throwing a bag of popcorn at Reeves.
Reeves has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. He is using Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" defense.
Judge Susan Barthle will decide whether the controversial defense holds water. If it does, Reeves will walk away a free man. If it doesn’t, he will go on trial for murder.
Prosecutors say it was Reeves who provoked the confrontation.