Robbie Tolan: Bellaire police shooting was racially motivated

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by By Courtney Zubowski / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 23 at 5:58 PM

BELLAIRE, Texas -- It took only a few seconds to throw a curve into the dream of a lifetime.

Video
Tolan: Bellaire police shooting was racially motivated
Febuary 17, 2008

"I stuck my hand under my shirt and pulled it out, along with a handful of blood," said Robbie Tolan, who was shot by Bellaire police in December.

He spoke exclusively with 11 News Tuesday night in his first local interview since the shooting.

Robbie Tolan was a standout baseball player. He was a baseball star at Bellaire High, a major player at college level, and most recently, he was a minor league player with the Washington Nationals.

At 23-years-old, Tolan was closing in on the dream of making it to the major leagues.

But in December, after Bellaire police stopped him in front of his home because they thought he was driving a stolen vehicle. He wasn't.

"I came home just like any other day. I parked my car, got out to walk up the driveway, and the next thing I know, we have a flashlight and a gun pointed at us," said Tolan.

Tolan said police ordered him to lie down on the ground. Then, his parents came outside because of all of the commotion.

"Sgt. Cotton grabbed my mother and threw her up against the garage door," said Tolan.

That's when Tolan says he tried to defend his mother.

"I was on the ground. I raised up and I turned around. I told them to get their hands of my mama. Then I was shot," said Tolan.

Robbie's mother, Marian Tolan, tells a similar story.

"The officer didn't say a word. He never asked him to be quiet. He never told him to get down or stay down. He didn't say a word," said Marian.

Instead, she says he used a gun.

"He took his gun and he shot him. The officer was standing two feet away from me and he shot him," said Marian during an interview with HBO's Real Sports.

Robbie's father, retired Major League Baseball player Bobby Tolan, was also watching.

"While I was in the car, cops were walking back and forth. I kept banging on the window and told them to let me talk to somebody. They looked and just kept on going," said Bobby.

The Tolan's believe the reason behind what happened was due to the color of their skin. Tolan thinks that if he was white, he would not be in the position he is today.

Tolan spent weeks in the hospital recovering.

At first, talking and walking was nearly impossible. Now, he is improving, but he will always have a bullet lodged in his liver.

"I'm just happy to see daylight," said Tolan.

Bellaire police said they don't believe the shooting was , but there have been some changes in Bellaire since the shooting.

They have hired a consultant to analyze traffic stops and who the officers are stopping. Plus, all officers are now going through cultural sensitivity training.

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