Houston Matters

Six Years Later, Police Shooting of Robbie Tolan Reaches a Settlement

On Tuesday (Sept. 15, 2015), a settlement was reached in a years-long legal dispute stemming from the 2008 shooting in Bellaire of aspiring minor league ballplayer Robbie Tolan by Bellaire police officer Jeffrey Cotton. Tolan was wounded in the incident, which occurred after a traffic stop in front of Tolan’s home. Cotton was ultimately acquitted […]

On Tuesday (Sept. 15, 2015), a settlement was reached in a years-long legal dispute stemming from the 2008 shooting in Bellaire of aspiring minor league ballplayer Robbie Tolan by Bellaire police officer Jeffrey Cotton.

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.

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