HOUSTON – Support is not dwindling for Robbie Tolan, who was shot over six years ago by a White Bellaire police officer. The community stood outside the Houston Federal Courthouse to further rally around him and his family.
“It’s an incredible feeling to see everyone come out in solidarity and stand with me,” Tolan told African-American News&Issues at the conclusion of the Aug. 26 rally.
“The point I wanted to make was that this doesn’t just affect Robbie Tolan. My name is in the headlines and my name is on the case, but this is not about Robbie Tolan. This is about the next Robbie Tolan, the next Trayvon Martin, the next Eric Garner, the next Michael Brown, should there be one,” he emphasized.
In 2008, Officer Jeffery Cotton shot Tolan in his driveway after he was mistakenly suspected of car theft. Although Tolan was unarmed, the officer claimed he was reaching for a weapon that led to the shooting that stirred cries of racism and police misconduct.
A lawsuit filed by Tolan alleged that he was racially profiled and had his civil rights violated. Officer Cotton was acquitted, however, Tolan’s legal team filed an appeal, which was upheld by the Supreme Court and is considered a milestone.
A federal magistrate has set a September 2015 trial date, which means Tolan will have his day in court.
“All you want is justice. All you want is your day in court. We were denied that, so now we will get the opportunity. It’s incredible,” said Tolan.“Transparency is what we need. We need them to know that we are watching. When someone is watching, you’re always inclined to the right thing.”
Tolan’s family has since hired Benjamin Crump, who has become a vey high profile attorney in taking on recent cases involving injustices done to Black males. He has represented the family of Trayvon Martin and presently provides legal counsel to the family of Michael Brown, who was recently gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri by White officer Darren Wilson. [READ MORE]