Criminal Justice

Police Shoot Minor League Baseball Pitcher Near Houston

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This doesn't look good:

It was 2 a.m. on December 31 when [Robbie] Tolan and his cousin, Anthony Cooper, were confronted in the driveway of their home by Bellaire, Texas, police officers. Police officials say the officers suspected the two young men were driving a stolen car.

Bellaire is a prominent, mostly white suburb in southwest Houston.

[…]

Tolan's relatives say the two young men had just arrived from a late-night run to a Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant.

As they walked up the driveway to their home, Anthony Cooper said an unidentified man emerged from the darkness with a flashlight and a gun pointed at them.

"We did not know it was a police officer," said Cooper. "He said, 'Stop. Stop.' And we were like, 'Why? Who are you?'"

The officers ordered both men to lie down on the ground. Tolan's parents heard the commotion and came outside. Police will only say an "altercation" took place. Tolan's family say it involved his mother.

"The cop pushed her against the wall," said Tolan's uncle, Mike Morris.

Relatives say Tolan started to lean up from the ground to ask the officer what he was doing to his mother. That's when the family says Tolan was shot in the chest, the bullet piercing his lung and then lodging in his liver.

But Tolan's SUV wasn't stolen. Both men were unarmed and relatives say they were hardly a threat to the police officer.

Tolan happens to be the son of a former major league baseball player, and is in the early stages of his own pro baseball career. The police department initially denied racial profiling played a role, but has now stopped talking about the case publicly, saying only that "they're investigating how the officers on the scene mistakenly determined that the SUV Tolan and his cousin were driving had been stolen."

Even if there had been an SUV reported stolen that night that looked like the one Tolan's cousin was driving, you first have to wonder why the cops wouldn't run the plates before ordering everyone out of the truck at gunpoint. And that's before you start looking at the shooting, and the confrontation with Tolan's mother.

If there wasn't an SUV reported stolen that resembled the one Tolan was in, this is going to get really, really ugly.

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  1. If there wasn’t an SUV reported stolen that resembled the one Tolan was in

    I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Something tells me a report will surface. After that, they’ll probably trot out a confidential informer who will say the kid has been buying pounds of dope from him.

  2. If there wasn’t an SUV reported stolen that resembled the one Tolan was in, this is going to get really, really ugly.

    I don’t understand what you mean. Seems pretty clear that things are already “really really ugly”. I take it you mean, this is going to cause a big confrontation with lots of racial cards in play with both sides digging in and playing hardball.

    A police department house cleaning with a couple of indictments and convictions is probably the best of all possible worlds. I doubt it will turn out that well. But any attention brought to the SOP of suburban Texan police can only be a good thing.

  3. “The police department initially denied racial profiling played a role, but has now stopped talking about the case publicly, saying only that “they’re investigating how the officers on the scene mistakenly determined that the SUV Tolan and his cousin were driving had been stolen.”

    Well if the police use the same investigative techniques and competence that was used by the officers in the this incident, it will be a while before they stumble onto why a totally innocent was shot.
    But I think that I can deduce why the person was shot: because he wasn’t white. So it’s the victims own fault.

  4. Bellaire is more of an enclave of Houston than “near” Houston. Drive ten minutes in one direction from anywhere in Bellaire and you will be in the City of Houston.

  5. Every time I come to reason you make me more and more afraid of police.

    Good work.

  6. Man, it’s tough to hang with Mr. Cooper. Even staying with his auntie and uncle in Bellaire, a couple of guys who were up to no good, still make trouble for him in his neighborhood.

  7. I’m beginning to think any incident of this nature should be subject to an investigation by the FBI.

    “Professional courtesy” should be strictly prohibited.

  8. Kolohe,

    LOL. I haven’t watched that show in years.

  9. I’m beginning to think any incident of this nature should be subject to an investigation by the FBI.

    I’m not a huge fan of the FBI, but I do think this is a good idea. Considering the racial subtext to most of these police shootings, there’s even a precedent.

  10. I’m beginning to think any incident of this nature should be subject to an investigation by the FBI.

    If you bring in snakes to take care of your rabbit problem, you might wind up with a snake problem.

  11. Nigel, but you could still call Bellaire part of Houston really. I lived in the Galleria area of Houston and Bellaire was pretty close by. It’s a nice neighbourhood too for the most part and the high school there produces a heap of good baseball players and funnily enough academically bright students too.

  12. You know, when I first started lurking here four years ago, I was one of those law and order, support the boys in blue, everyday sort of people. It does not surprise me to note that I have gone in the completely opposite direction thanks to stories like this. The only surprising thing to me, is that it took this long. Keep up the good work Radley.

  13. “Professional courtesy” should be strictly prohibited.

    If for no other reason than it sounds suspiciously like someone is getting sexually serviced while on duty.

  14. Gilmore,

    How much Ripped Fuel have you ingested?

  15. Poor guy.

    What was the name of the minor league team he played for? Let me guess — the Houston Puppies?

  16. How much Ripped Fuel have you ingested?

    Sterno

  17. Gilmore,

    Verily. Your rhetorical skills are ubiquitous today. The ripped fuel comment was from “Generation Kill”. Person has totally wigged out and is just spouting out crazy ass babble. Colbert stares at him and asks Person how much ripped fuel he had ingested. Good stuff.

    TWC,

    Where ya been dude! I’m afraid you’ve been gone so long that I no longer understand your statements. Sterno?

  18. more ubiquitous

  19. sterno : spanko :: stern : spank

    = fetishizing the mere threat of punishment.

  20. Maybe it wasn’t a racial incident at all. Maybe the cops were there just to burglarize the house. Think positive!

  21. Don’t you mean, ‘I hope this gets ugly.’ The problem is that not much ever seems to happen in cases like this. The cops probably won’t be convicted of any criminal charges and they will do no jail time. Obviously it is ugly for the victim and his family but I will be surprised if it gets ugly for the police.

    As you say Radley, just another isolated incident.

  22. I never heard anything good about the BPD when I lived in Houston.

  23. The cops probably won’t be convicted of any criminal charges and they will do no jail time.

    Based on past experience, its probably even odds that they’ll be promoted.

    I am so looking forward to the day when I build my own house. The list of hardened security features just gets longer and longer the more Balko stories I read.

    I’ll be looking very hard at the driveway (which will be long, we’re looking at 50 acre minimum lots), to see if I can put one in that can only be accessed if the gate is open. And you can bet your ass the gate won’t be one any car can break down.

  24. There is a concerted effort among some suburban Houston PDs to hire Iraq vets fresh out the military door, buzz cuts and all.

    So you take some 20-something former grunt who’s been rolling the streets of Baghdad for a year, where everyone is the enemy, and plunk him down with a gun and a badge in white bread suburbia, where all the kids have smart mouths.

    Recipe for disaster.

  25. The worst part that the article left out is that all Bellaire Police were issued Tasers two or three years ago. If the officer had followed procedure and used a non-lethal weapon, this would be an awkward story, not a tragic mess.

  26. Ooops, only if the taser didn’t kill him, not unheard of either.

  27. Not to worry, these are some of those “new professionals”, right? We can trust them.

    Right?

  28. New TV series:

    Law & Order: SUV

  29. this will be just another cop getting PAYED administrative leave of absence while his superiors sweep it all under the carpet. then he will get back to work as if nothing ever happened. happens all the time where the cop is justified as doing nothing wrong. its time to make an example out of this piece of shit cop and send him to see bubba for a few decades.

  30. “”””If there wasn’t an SUV reported stolen that resembled the one Tolan was in, this is going to get really, really ugly.”””

    I love the way Radley jokes.

    “””If you bring in snakes to take care of your rabbit problem, you might wind up with a snake problem.”””

    True. But we are not allowed to hunt rabbit to solve the problem.

    “””I’ll be looking very hard at the driveway (which will be long, we’re looking at 50 acre minimum lots), to see if I can put one in that can only be accessed if the gate is open. And you can bet your ass the gate won’t be one any car can break down.”””

    I hear ya. And I would use a lot of sensors and a few cameras in strategic locations.

  31. Law inforcement is purposely doing these outragious murders to get the public to explode, so that martial law can be implamented. F.E.M.A. has 150,000 coffins that they purchaced last year that can fit 4 people in one. March 13th of “08” a secret meeting at the house of Reps descussed martial law. Last year Bush & cheney purchased 107,000 box cars out fitted with shackles and benches that will be driven into gas chamber depots. REX84 will start and some will be put into reconditioning camps. People will be sepparated by red,blue,and yellow color codes. Red will be exterminated. They will come to collect the guns first. When this happens you will know!

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