Tampa Police Chief Resigns After Flashing Badge During Traffic Stop

After less than a year on the job, Tampa police chief Mary O’Connor resigned. Why did a minor traffic stop on a golf cart lead to her resignation?

What Happened During the Traffic Stop?

On November 12, 2022, Tampa police chief Mary O’Connor was riding in the front passenger seat of a golf cart. Her husband Keith  O’Connor was driving the golf cart on the road illegally in Pinellas County, a county neighboring Hillsborough County where Tampa is located.

The couple was pulled over by Pinellas sheriff’s deputy Larry Jacoby. Jacoby stopped the couple because they were driving on the road without the required license plate tag for a golf cart.

The encounter was caught on body cam footage.

In the video, the officer explains why he pulled the couple over. O’Connor pulls her badge from her pocket and presents it to the officer. She informs him that she is the Tampa police chief and says, “hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight.”

Near the end of the encounter, O’Connor apologizes to the deputy, gives him her business card, and says, “if you ever need anything, call me.”

The officer let the couple go without a ticket.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

The Repercussions After the Traffic Stop

Roughly two weeks after the traffic stop, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay submitted a public records request for the body camera footage of the incident from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

O’Connor knew there was footage from the traffic stop. During the video, she asks the officer if his body cam is on, and he replies that it is.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was first notified about the incident once the footage was about to be released to the public, 18 days after the traffic stop. O’Connor notified Castor the day the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay the video would be released the next day.

The day the video was released, Castor ordered an internal affairs investigation, and the Tampa Police department released a statement which included comments from both O’Connor and Castor.

O’Connor said, “In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent. I knew my conversation was on video, and my motive was not to put the deputy in an uncomfortable position. I have personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff offering to pay for any potential citation.”

Castor said, “We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable. Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.” Castor then opened an internal affairs review of the incident.

Not long after the release of the video, on December 5, 2022, O’Connor resigned. In a statement, Castor said it was “unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position.”

Assistant police chief Lee Bercaw was named interim police chief.

Beginning and Ending in Controversy

O’Connor’s ten months as Tampa police chief started and ended with controversy.

When O’Connor was named as a police chief in March, many people were upset about the decision. In 1995, when O’Connor (known then as Mary Minter) was a rookie police officer in Tampa, she disrupted a traffic stop. She was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a suspected DUI. The driver (who was also a Tampa police officer) was arrested for a DUI, and O’Connor was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, obstruction, and disorderly intoxication.

Both officers were fired and then later reinstated. O’Connor went on to have a long career in law enforcement which eventually led to her becoming Tampa’s police chief.

Many in Tampa believed the incident should have disqualified O’Connor, but she was named as Tampa police chief in March 2022. Now after just ten months, the city of Tampa is conducting a national search to find her replacement.

Related: What to Expect From a First Offense DUI

Protect Your Rights

No one is above the law. Every person accused of a potential crime deserves due process and to be treated fairly within the legal system. If you have been arrested for a crime or face any level of criminal charges, talk to an attorney right away. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure you receive fair treatment every step of the way. They will also fight for you to get the most just outcome possible.

If you are facing criminal charges, talk to an attorney about your options today. Contact TJ Grimaldi to see how our team can help you navigate your legal situation and come out with the best possible outcome. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

A Lawsuit Over Mac and Cheese and 400+ Other Food Lawsuits Filed by a NY Attorney

A package of instant macaroni and cheese doesn’t seem like something to lead to a lawsuit. But, a cup of noodles is now at the heart of a lawsuit filed by a Florida woman.

What led to the lawsuit, and why has her attorney filed over 400 lawsuits about food?

The Mac and Cheese Lawsuit

Amanda Ramirez claims she purchased a package of instant Velveeta Shells & Cheese. According to the packaging, the product should be ready in 3 ½ minutes. When Ramirez cooked the food, she realized it took longer than the advertised time. After stirring in the water and waiting for the cheese to thicken, it took more than 3 ½ minutes for the food to be ready to eat.

Ramirez decided to sue over the discrepancy.

Ramirez partnered with New York-based attorney Spencer Sheehan to file a class action lawsuit against Kraft Heinz Company (which owns the Velveeta brand) for what it believes is false advertising. The lawsuit alleges that Kraft Heinz misleads customers and drives them to purchase the product at a higher price due to the perceived convenience.

According to the lawsuit, “As a result of the false and misleading representations, the Product is sold at a premium price, approximately no less than $10.99 for eight 2.39 oz cups, excluding tax and sales, higher than similar products, represented in a non-misleading way, and higher than it would be sold for absent the misleading representations and omissions.”

As reported by NPR, the 15-page class action lawsuit seeks over $5 million in damages to cover consumers in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, Iowa, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

A Pattern of Food-Related Lawsuits

The mac and cheese lawsuit isn’t the first time Sheehan has filed a lawsuit related to false advertising in food products.

According to NPR, Sheehan has filed more than 400 lawsuits related to mislabeling and misrepresenting food products.

Some of Sheehan’s lawsuits include:

  • A lawsuit against Frito-Lay for not using enough real lime juice in its “hint of lime” Tostitos.
  • A lawsuit against Snack Pack pudding for saying it is “made with real milk” when it is actually made with fat-free skim milk.
  • A lawsuit against Pop Tarts for misrepresenting the amount of fruit in strawberry Pop Tarts.
  • Roughly 120 lawsuits against food companies that say their products are “vanilla” while including no actual vanilla bean.

Some of Sheehan’s hundreds of cases have been dismissed by judges, but many others have been voluntarily dismissed.

When a case is voluntarily dismissed, the plaintiff terminates the lawsuit. It is typically a result of the two sides coming to an agreement out of court. In those cases, the defendant often pays the plaintiff to end the lawsuit.

In class action lawsuits with many plaintiffs, each plaintiff doesn’t usually take home a significant amount of money if they win or settle a case. But, Sheehan’s cases could be lucrative for him as the plaintiff’s attorney.

According to Bonnie Patten of Truth In Advertising, “The vast majority of consumers will get absolutely nothing, and a very small percentage will get next to nothing. Generally, the plaintiff’s attorney will be taking home between 25 and 33%.”

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

Food Lawsuits Now and Then

Sheehan isn’t the first person to file class action lawsuits related to the false advertising of food products. It has happened recently and decades ago.

Just one month before the mac and cheese lawsuit, Matthew Sinatro and Jessica Prost filed a class action lawsuit against Barilla, a pasta making company. The lawsuit alleges that Barilla engages in false advertising by featuring the slogan “Italy’s #1 Brand of Pasta” on pasta boxes, even though the pasta is not made in Italy. Barilla moved to dismiss the case in August, but the judge denied the request. The case is still currently moving through the legal system.

Lawsuits over misrepresentation in food packaging and advertising go as far back as the early ‘90s.

In 1991, Richard Overton sued Anheuser-Busch for false and misleading advertising. Overton said commercials for Anheuser-Busch beers featured, “scenic tropical settings [and] beautiful women and men engaged in endless and unrestricted merriment.” He said this image turned out to be “untrue.” The beer commercials depicted a fantasy that wasn’t what you got when you consumed the product.

Overton said the misrepresentation caused him emotional distress, mental and physical injury, and over $10,000 in financial losses. The beer case was dismissed.

Related: What to Ask During a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

Get Serious Legal Representation

While some legal cases may seem silly, there is nothing silly about being involved in a legal matter.

If you find yourself facing legal issues, talk to an attorney right away. Find a trusted lawyer who will fight for you to get the best possible outcome, whether you’re facing civil or criminal charges. To get legal advice right away, schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi. All consultations are free. Request your appointment or call 813-226-1023 now.

Scooter Accident Leads to Boy’s Death and DUI Manslaughter Charges

In early November, a tragedy occurred when a 10-year-old fell from a motorized scooter and was killed in Tampa, Florida. He was a passenger riding on the scooter, and the driver is facing charges for the accident.

What led to the terrible accident, and what consequences await the driver?

An Awful Accident

On November 10, 2022, around 6:40 p.m., 37-year-old Yordanis Leyva was driving a motorized scooter in Tampa, Florida. On the scooter with him was a 10-year-old boy, who has not been named. The boy and the man knew each other, but the details of their relationship have not been released.

As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Leyva made a wide turn to pull into a gas station at 3605 West Hillsborough Ave. He took the turn too wide and caused the two riders to fall to the ground in the path of oncoming traffic. A driver didn’t see them on the road and ran them over.

Both Leyva and the boy were taken to a nearby hospital. Leyva was seriously injured, and the boy died from his injuries.

Who Is at Fault for the Accident?

Investigators pointed blame at the driver of the scooter, not the driver of the car who hit the two riders. Leyva, the scooter driver, was intoxicated at the time of the accident and is accused of being at fault for the accident.

Leyva was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and driving with a suspended license involving a death.

According to ABC Action News, this isn’t the first time Leyva has been arrested for driving under the influence. In 2019, Leyva was arrested for a DUI. At that time, Leyva was pulled over after police saw him driving erratically, weaving side to side and stopping in the roadway.

Related: How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

What Charges Does the Driver Face?

In Florida, DUI laws are directed under Florida Statutes 316.193. Under the statutes:

  • A DUI leading to serious bodily harm is classified as a third-degree felony. It can come with penalties of up to five years in prison, up to five years probation, and a $5,000 fine.
  • A DUI resulting in death is a second-degree felony that comes with a mandatory prison sentence of four years. The maximum sentence is 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Because the boy died from his injuries, Leyva faces DUI manslaughter charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Since it is Leyva’s second DUI, he may face additional consequences.

In Florida, a second DUI offense can result in serious criminal penalties. If the DUI took place within five years of the prior DUI, it can result in a minimum 10-day jail sentence.

A second DUI offense can also lead to:

  • Nine months to one year in jail depending on the driver’s BAC
  • One year in jail if the DUI happened while a passenger under 18 was in the vehicle
  • One year in jail if the DUI caused an accident that led to property damage or injury
  • Five years in jail if the DUI caused an accident that led to “serious bodily injury”

Fines for a second DUI can range from $1,000 to $5,000. A second DUI can also lead to license revocation, vehicle impoundment, and the addition of an ignition-locking device on the driver’s vehicle.

Leyva faces serious charges because the second DUI charge led to an accident that caused the death of a minor.

Related: What To Do About a DUI License Suspension in Florida 

Another Scooter Accident in Tampa Bay

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered a manslaughter case involving scooters in the Tampa Bay area. In November 2021, we covered a story about a man who was charged with manslaughter via culpable negligence after he hit and killed a bicyclist while riding an electric scooter in St. Petersburg.

In that case, the driver wasn’t under the influence, but investigators alleged that his negligence caused the accident.

Scooters — whether they are motorized or electric — can lead to charges and accidents as severe as those that involve average-size vehicles.

Related: What to Expect From a First Offense DUI

Facing DUI Charges Is a Serious Matter

What happened on November 10, 2022, is a terrible tragedy that led to the death of a young boy. No person should drive under the influence and put other lives at risk.

Driving under the influence is a serious danger and a serious charge. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, seek legal assistance right away. Everyone deserves fair due process of the law, even in the case of a DUI. If you have been charged with a DUI, talk to a DUI attorney right away. Contact TJ Grimaldi by requesting your free consultation or calling 813-226-1023 today.

To Honor Chad Oulson, TJ Grimaldi Helps Launch Foundation to Support Victims of Gun Violence

Nicole and Alexis Oulson

To honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, a group of his family and friends launched the Oulson Family Foundation to offer support to children impacted by gun violence.

About The Oulson Family

On January 13, 2014, Chad Oulson was killed in a senseless act of gun violence. While on a mid-day movie date with his wife Nicole Oulson, Chad Oulson was involved in a confrontation with a man sitting in the row behind him. The confrontation ended with Chad Oulson being shot and killed.

Before the movie had even started, Nicole Oulson lost her husband and the father of her 22-month-old daughter, Alexis.

“In the blink of an eye, our lives were shattered beyond belief. I lost my husband, the love of my life, my rock, my everything. Our family lost a son, brother, uncle, and friend,” said Nicole Oulson.

Chad Oulson’s family sought justice through the legal system. For eight long years, the case dragged through the court system. Then on February 25, 2022, the family received more devastating news. A jury of six found the shooter not guilty of the murder of Chad Oulson.

“After eight long years of maneuvering through the judicial system, another unbelievable blow was delivered with a not guilty verdict. Again, my family was devastated,” said Nicole Oulson.

But, the family was not going to let the ruling stand between them and honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson.

In May 2022, Chad’s friends and family created the Oulson Family Foundation.

Related: TJ Grimaldi Shares Reaction to “Wrong” Not Guilty Verdict in Reeves Murder Trial

About The Oulson Family Foundation

The Oulson Family Foundation is a non-profit with a mission to provide financial support to children impacted by gun violence.

Oulson Family Foundation

Nicole Oulson knows what families go through in the wake of gun violence, and she wanted to do something to offer support to families going through tragedies of their own.

“As a single mother of a young daughter, I know firsthand the financial, physical, and emotional toll that comes from gun violence. The pain is unimaginable, and the loss is something you can never plan for,” said Nicole Oulson. “After receiving an abundance of encouragement and support from people worldwide, I knew I needed to do my part.”

“The Oulson Family Foundation will strive to help other families that have children directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence.”

Nicole, Chad and Alexis Oulson

The Oulson Family Foundation will provide funds to help kids get what they need in the wake of being directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence.

Caretakers of children affected by gun violence can receive funds to provide financial assistance for medical bills, counseling, and education. The goal is to help families and children get what they need to heal and create a brighter future.

“They say it takes a village to raise our children. We are reaching out a hand to others to offer hope, support, and comfort during these unimaginable times,” says Nicole Oulson.

A Commitment of Support from TJ Grimaldi

For more than eight years, TJ Grimaldi stood by the family of Chad Oulson as they sought justice.

Grimaldi represented Nicole Oulson in civil matters and offered legal support throughout the criminal trial, which was litigated by state prosecutors. From the start, Grimaldi has been committed to fighting for Chad Oulson and his family, and he remains committed to that mission.

When the criminal court was unable to provide legal justice, Grimaldi sought another way to help honor the legacy of Chad Oulson, and he helped launch the Oulson Family Foundation. Grimaldi will sit on the board and work alongside Nicole Oulson and others to raise awareness and funds for families impacted by gun violence.

“It’s been my honor to represent the Oulson family, and now I’m glad I’m able to help honor Chad’s life in another way,” says Grimaldi.

“What happened to Nicole and Alexis was a terrible tragedy. I’ve seen how difficult it has been for them, and I hope the Oulson Family Foundation can help ease that burden, even just a little bit, for other families who have to endure something similar.”

How to Get Involved with the Oulson Family Foundation

If you would like to support the Oulson Family Foundation and help offer assistance to children impacted by gun violence, you can help too.

Please visit oulsonfamilyfoundation.com to learn more about the foundation’s mission and to make a donation. Your participation will offer kids a chance to heal and grow through financial assistance for medical bills, counseling, and education. Learn more and donate today.

If you or someone you know has a family impacted by gun violence, please visit the website to learn more about how you can apply for aid through the Oulson Family Foundation.

Gone But Not Forgotten #28

Two Years Later, Why Is Vanessa Bryant Going to Trial Over Kobe’s Death?

January 26, 2020, was a tragic day for the Bryant family. A helicopter accident took the life of famed basketball player Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others.

As if the day wasn’t difficult enough for Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, she had to learn about the possible death of her family members through social media.

Now, Vanessa Bryant is in a legal fight to hold accountable the people who leaked the details — and photos — of the terrible accident. Will Vanessa Bryant be able to get justice for herself and her loved ones?

The Tragic Accident

January 26, 2020, was a fairly normal Sunday for the Bryant family. They were used to taking helicopters to travel over the congested roadways near their home in Orange County, California. Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant boarded the helicopter with six other passengers and a pilot who the Bryants had flown with regularly.

The passengers, which included two of Gianna’s Bryant’s teammates and their parents, were on their way to a basketball game, but they wouldn’t make it. The helicopter crashed into a hillside, and everyone on the plane was killed.

According to Vanessa Bryant, she learned about the accident from the family’s assistant who came to the residence to tell her. The assistant told Vanessa Bryant there had been an accident, there were believed to be five survivors, and she didn’t know if the survivors included Kobe and Gianna.

Vanessa Bryant said the first indication she got that Kobe and Gianna didn’t make it was via social media. She says her phone was lighting up with “R.I.P. Kobe” messages.

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

How Did the Story (and Photos) Get Leaked?

Vanessa Bryant says Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies took and shared unauthorized photos of the crash shortly after it happened.

In a lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant alleges, “No fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”

The lawsuit also alleges that other law enforcement officials not involved with the case also shared photos of the accident. In one situation, the photos were said to be shared in a bar. In another situation, the photos were shown at an awards gala.

A filing from Vanessa’s Byant’s legal team says, “Discovery has shown that the close-up photos of Gianna and Kobe’s remains were passed around on at least twenty-eight Sheriff’s Department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters.”

Not only does the lawsuit allege that photos were leaked and shown to the public, but it also accuses the Defendants of covering up their activity.

“It has also shown that Defendants engaged in a cover up, destroying the direct forensic evidence of their misconduct and requiring extensive circumstantial evidence to establish the full extent of that misconduct,” says the filing.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

The Lawsuit and Upcoming Trial

In September 2020, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Alex Villanueva in federal court. The lawsuit claims civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress, and violation of privacy.

In March 2021, Vanessa Bryant opened up the lawsuit to include four men who are accused of sharing photos from the scene: Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales.

The case is set to go before a jury on February 22, 2022. According to reports by CNN, Vanessa Bryant’s legal team plans to call at least 12 witnesses, and up to 28 people may be called to testify.

The civil lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages. For the Bryants, the case is more about preventing the sharing of horrific personal details in the future.

“This [filing] solely is about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future,” a Bryant family spokesperson told People. “When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect.”

In addition to the lawsuit, a new California state law may help prevent this type of situation from happening again.

Just nine months after the tragic accident, California ratified a law that makes it illegal for first responders to take unauthorized pictures of people killed at the scene of an accident or crime.

The upcoming case has nothing to do with when Vanessa Bryant sued for wrongful death. The lawsuit filed against the companies that owned and operated the helicopter, as well as the estate of the late helicopter pilot, was settled in June 2021. Details of the settlement were not released.

Protect Your Rights

All people, even public figures, have rights that need to be protected.

If you feel your rights or the rights of a loved one have been violated, you deserve justice. Talk to an attorney who will fight for you to protect your legal rights. If you have a personal injury or civil case to discuss, contact TJ Grimaldi to see if he can help you get justice for you or your loved one. Request an appointment or call 813-226-1023.

Man Faces Murder Charges After Shots Fired at His Car Killed His Passenger

Francisco Galvan was in the line of fire when two men started shooting at his car. The shots hit him and his two passengers, fatally wounding one of them. Galvan lived through the experience but now, he faces murder charges for the passenger who was killed by the shots.

How did Galvan go from being at risk of being murdered to being charged with third-degree murder?

Shots Fired

On January 7, 2022, Francisco Galvan, 20, got in his car with two others and drove to an apartment complex in Temple Terrace to sell marijuana to an interested buyer. But, the transaction never occurred.

When Galvan’s car pulled up to the apartment, the would-be buyers started shooting at it. The shots hit Galvan and his two passengers. Galvan drove the three injured men to Tampa General Hospital, but it was too late for 18-year-old Ismael Reyers-Barajas. He died from his injuries that day, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

While it is unclear if the person or persons who shot Reyers-Barajas and his passengers have been charged, someone is facing criminal charges in the case — Galvan.

In an unusual turn of events, Galvan is now facing a third-degree murder charge for Reyers-Barajas’ death.

Prosecutors say that because the shooting happened during an attempted drug deal orchestrated by Galvan, Galvan is partially to blame for Reyers-Barajas death.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What Is Third Degree Murder?

Florida is only one of three states that have third-degree murder laws. Pennsylvania and Minnesota are the other two states.

In Florida, third-degree murder is outlined under Florida Statutes Section 782.04. It is described as the unintentional killing of a person while committing or attempting a non-violent felony.

The penalty is up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Galvin’s arrest report states the shooting was, “committed during the commission of a felony that (Galvan) was involved in.” Because Reyers-Barajas was killed while Galvan was committing a crime, prosecutors say Galvan is in some way responsible for the death.

Third-degree murder does not require intent the way that first and second-degree murder charges do. In most cases, a death caused by the unintentional act of another person is considered a manslaughter charge, but not in this case.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Third Degree Murder vs. Manslaughter: What’s the Difference?

When a death is caused by neglect rather than malicious intent, it is often considered a manslaughter charge, not a murder charge.

Manslaughter is defined under Florida Statutes Section 782.07. It refers to situations where:

  • Someone intentionally completed an act that led to the death of another person.
  • Someone persuaded or encouraged another person to complete an act that led to that person’s death.
  • Someone was culpably negligent which led to the death of another person.

Manslaughter charges typically apply to situations where someone caused another person’s death but they had no prior intent on killing the other person.

In this case, it appears that Galvin had no intent to kill Reyers-Barajas. But because Glavin was engaging in criminal behavior during Reyers-Barajas’ death, he may face the more serious charge of third-degree murder.

If convicted, the third-degree murder charge will hold more weight on Galvin’s record. But, the potential sentencing for both third-degree murder and manslaughter is the same.

They both hold the potential for 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

The Importance of Working with a Top Criminal Defense Attorney

Multiple crimes were in motion on January 7, 2022. Galvan was planning to commit the crime of selling illegal drugs, but instead, he now faces charges for a much more serious crime — a shooting he did not commit but may be responsible for.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing minor or serious criminal charges, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Both misdemeanors and felonies have the potential to change your life and lead to fines, probation, and jail time.

Do not face a criminal charge on your own. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you get the best possible outcome for your situation. If you are facing criminal charges, contact TJ Grimaldi today to see how our team can help you navigate your situation and get the most just outcome. Request an appointment or call 813-226-1023.

Movie Theater “Stand Your Ground” Case To Finally Start Trial 8 Years Later

Eight years after Curtis Reeves shot and killed Chad Oulson in front of multiple witnesses in a Florida movie theater, the case is finally going to trial. After years of delays, Oulson‘s family will finally get their day in court, and TJ Grimaldi is determined to help them seek justice.

What Happened in the Florida Movie Theater?

In 2014, Chad Oulson and his wife Nicole didn’t expect their lives to change when they went to a Pasco County movie theater for an afternoon date away from their young daughter. They thought they were going to a movie, but they didn’t even see the start of the show.

During the previews, Chad Oulson checked his phone to see if he had any messages from the daycare that was watching his daughter, who was 22-months-old at the time. She had been teething, and he wanted to make sure everything was okay. Oulson’s activity angered Reeves who was sitting behind Oulson.

Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain, started an altercation with Oulson, pulled out his gun, and fired one shot, killing Oulson in front of his wife and a movie theater filled with eye witnesses. Nicole was also injured during the incident.

Eight Long Years Later

Over eight years, Reeve’s legal team has used tactic after tactic to delay the case making it to trial.

Dragging out the case has been a major delay of justice for Oulson‘s family who have been waiting for the trial to begin. In that time, Reeves has been able to avoid jail time and instead, spend time at home with his family.

Reeves’ legal team spent years arguing that the case fell under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. Changes to the law led to multiple hearings and eventually, a Florida Supreme Court decision. But, after Reeve’s team lost their case, the trial for the shooting was finally scheduled for February 2022.

Now, it finally looks like the trial is finally going to happen. On Thursday, January 13th, a judge moved the case forward with plans to start the trial on February 7th.

TJ Grimaldi has represented Oulson‘s widow, Nicole, since Chad’s death in 2014, and he sees the trial as long overdue.

“During the past eight years, Ms. Oulson has had to learn how to be a single mother and mourn the death of her husband, all while Curtis Reeves was unnecessarily delaying the defense of his case while still being able to be at home and spend time with his family. Hopefully, we are that much closer to finally seeing this murderer behind bars,” says Grimaldi.

Related: 7 Years Later, Movie Theater “Stand Your Ground” Case Still Waiting for Trial   

Getting Justice for Chad Oulson

During a status check that took place on Thursday, the judge on the case, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle, seemed eager to bring the case to trial.

Barthle set actions to keep the trial on track to start on February 7th. She scheduled hearings to resolve 19 outstanding motions, leaving just one motion to be discussed at a later date.

The judge also set parameters for the jury. Two hundred and fifty East Pasco residents will be summoned. Barthle is also planning to avoid delays caused by a rise in COVID-19 cases. The judge plans to have four alternatives for the jury to ensure the case can move forward without delays.

As the case moves closer to trial, Grimaldi will be working closely with the Oulson family to ensure that justice is found for Chad.

“I hope this time is different. The defense does everything they can to cause delay after delay. They know that each day the case isn’t tried and that Reeves is out of jail is a win for them,” says Grimaldi.

“It has been a long time coming to try and get justice for the murder of Chad Oulson and the significant injury to Nicole Oulson,” says Grimaldi. “But we think it’s finally time.”

How Much Jail Time Faces Electric Scooter Rider Who Hit and Killed a Bicyclist?

Electric scooters can be found across many major cities. Companies like Lime, Spin, and HOPR place scooters around cities so pedestrians can catch a quick ride. But, most people who hop on an electric scooter probably never think the ride could lead them to manslaughter charges.

But, that’s precisely what happened to a 22-year-old after he collided with a 77-year-old bicyclist.

The Electric Scooter Accident That Led to Manslaughter Charges

Tyer Andrew Brady, 22, was riding an electric scooter on Tuesday, November 9th in St. Petersburg, Florida.  As he was crossing an intersection, he reportedly hit a speed of 17-18 mph.

At the same time, Alvera Minutello, a 77-year-old St. Petersburg woman who liked to bike and swim, was coming toward Brady on a bicycle.

The two collided head-on. Brady was not injured, but Minutello died from her injuries.

What seemed like a tragic accident led to criminal charges after it became apparent that Brady may have been able to avoid the accident but failed to act. Police said Brady saw Minutello from about 80 feet away, but he did not attempt to slow down or move. Brady didn’t swerve to get out of the way even though there was room to do so.

Brady initially said that he didn’t intend on hitting Minutello. But after being read his rights, he changed his story. The Tampa Bay Times reported that his arrest affidavit said, “he drove straight into her and did not take any action to avoid hitting her or minimize the effects of the collision.”

Brady was arrested and charged with manslaughter via culpable negligence.

Related: Injured in a Car Accident? Here’s What You Need to Do Right Away.

What Are the Consequences of Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is defined under Florida Statute 782.07. It is a criminal charge that differs from murder. Murder charges refer to cases that show premeditation. A person plans to kill another person.

Manslaughter charges refer to cases that lack premeditation. A person kills another person without malice aforethought. They didn’t have a specific plan to kill the person.

In cases of manslaughter, a victim dies because of one of the following situations.

  • The defendant intentionally completed an act that led to the death of another person.
  • The defendant persuaded or encouraged another person to complete an act that led to that person’s death.
  • The defendant was culpably negligent which led to the death of another person.

The scooter accident falls into the category of culpable negligence. It is an involuntary manslaughter charge wherein Brady is said to have acted recklessly which led to the death of another person.

Under the charge of manslaughter via culpable negligence, Brady faces serious consequences. It is a second-degree felony that can result in 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and up to a $10,000 fine.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Could The Accident Lead to Civil Charges, Too?

What happened at a St. Petersburg intersection was a tragic accident. Now, the legal system will try to determine if the accident could have been prevented. If they find that Brady acted with disregard for the lives around him, he could find himself in jail for up to 15 years.

Brady could potentially find himself facing charges in civil court as well.

This situation could qualify as a wrongful death case. A wrongful death case can be filed if someone dies as the result of the negligence of another person or business. If Brady admitted he didn’t take any action to avoid hitting Minutello, he may also find himself facing a civil personal injury lawsuit as well.

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: Do You Have a Claim? 

Get Legal Help for Criminal and Civil Cases

If you find yourself on either side of a tragic accident, make sure you have an attorney that can fight for your best interests. Both criminal defense attorneys and personal injury attorneys can offer legal advice and guidance in the aftermath of an accident. When possible, choose an attorney who has experience in both types of law.

TJ Grimaldi has experience fighting for clients in both civil and criminal matters. If you need legal assistance to guide you through the wake of an accident, contact our office today to discuss the details of your situation. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.