Robbie Tolan’s family hires Trayvon Martin’s family attorney

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by Marcelino Benito / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 6:39 PM

In a press conference that felt more like a prayer service, the teenager who was shot in his family's own driveway in 2008 took the stage as a grown man, speaking out about the Supreme Court's decision.

"God saved Robbie for a reason," said Marian Tolan, Robbie's mother.

"This is bigger than Robbie Tolan," said Robbie. "This is bigger than Trayvon Martin."

In six years since that New Year's Eve night in Bellaire, the police officer who shot Robbie has been acquitted. And the family's civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court had been shot down.

Last week's unanimous high court decision changed everything. The court ruled the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't take into account evidence provided by the Tolan family in prior rulings.

"It's given new life to a case that everyone thought was all but dead," said Robbie.

Bellaire Police say they mistakenly shot him believing he was armed and had stolen a vehicle. The family says Robbie was profiled and shot because he was black. And now Trayvon Martin attorney Benjamin Crump will help the family make its case.

"This is about racial profiling and driving while black, we have to address the issue," said Crump.

And Crump says this case will be different than others because Robbie is alive.

"Thank God he's alive," said Crump. "Robbie's here to tell his version of what happened that night."

And the community is rallying behind the Tolan family. While the judicial system moves forward, congressional leaders plan to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate what happened in Bellaire.

"I don’t want any mother to go through what I’ve been through,” said Marian.

But the road will be long. Both the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a U.S. District Court judge would have to reverse their decisions before Robbie gets his day in federal court.

"We got to fight," said Crump. "And never stop standing for justice."

KHOU reached out to William Helfand, the attorney representing the Bellaire Police Department. He tells us "you can have all the press conferences you want, but the facts aren't going to change."

He says the Supreme Court's decision was largely procedural. And is largely insignificant as it relates to the facts.

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