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.

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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.