HOUSTON — A professional baseball player whose encounter with the Bellaire Police Department ended his career and nearly his life is set to graduate with a criminal justice degree Saturday morning.

Robbie Tolan is hoping his degree will help him as he speaks around the country about his experience on New Year’s Eve of 2008 outside his parents’ home in Bellaire.

"There’s a little bit of pain and discomfort there still. I still have the bullet in my liver," Tolan said.

On Dec. 31, 2008, Bellaire police stopped Tolan outside his parents’ home on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle. The car actually turned out to be Tolan’s own vehicle.

Tolan was ordered to lie on the ground. His mother came out of the house, the situation escalated and Tolan was shot. Officer Jeffrey Wayne Cotton was eventually found not guilty of aggravated assault. He’s still a member of the Bellaire Police Department.

"I've forgiven them, more so for me, for peace of mind, and just to be in a good space,” Tolan said.

But he said he will never forget.

"I think the criminal justice system needs an overhaul,” Tolan said. “I think we definitely need to retrain police officers. The process needs to be different. There needs to be greater accountability.”


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