Police shooting victim seeks justice for himself and others

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by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 11:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 11:20 PM

HOUSTON -- It was a moment that would define the rest of his life and re-define the meaning of home.

“When I look at my house, I don’t see my home that I grew up in anymore,” said Robbie Tolan. “I see the bullet holes in the house still there. It’s a constant reminder. “

Shot in his driveway by a Bellaire police officer in December of 2008 after his car had been mistakenly identified as stolen, Tolan’s story is now being told by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp on the Discovery Channel’s “Injustice Files.”

“I kept thinking, is this really how my life ends,” Tolan said in the documentary.

Life didn’t end -- just life as he knew it. The former stand out on Bellaire High School’s baseball team had aspirations to go pro like his father before him. After he was shot, he returned briefly to play as an outfielder in the Frontier League, but ultimately walked away from the game.

“It wasn’t necessarily by choice,” said Tolan. “When you’ve been shot and you’ve taken a year off from the game and you still have a bullet in you, you become more of a liability.”

Bellaire police sergeant Jeffrey Cotton was acquitted of aggravated assault for his role in the shooting, and Tolan’s civil lawsuit was thrown out. Now, instead of being recognized for his baseball skills, he finds himself a willing, if somewhat reluctant, crusader against racial profiling.

“When you talk about racial profiling and guns are involved in police shootings, the majority of the victims are dead,” said Tolan. “Those people can’t speak for themselves. You feel obligated to speak on their behalf.”

While life didn’t turn out the way he expected, he’s making the best of the hand life has dealt him.

“You just think about your blessings,” said Tolan. I have a lot that I could be angry with, but that’s no way to live.”

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