Tolan was wounded in the incident, which occurred after a traffic stop in front of Tolan’s home. Cotton was ultimately acquitted in a criminal trial some characterize as an example of institutional racism (Tolan is black; Cotton is white). An ensuing lawsuit claiming civil rights violations even went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014.
We talk about the case with Austin-based Dr. Melissa Hamilton, a visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center. She’s also a former police and corrections officer.