Racial profiling charged after Texas man shot in own driveway
The family of a young black Texas man who was shot in his own driveway by a white police officer believes that racial profiling was the cause and are asking for criminal charges to be filed against the officer.
According to family members, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were returning to Tolan's home in the mostly white Houston suburb of Bellaire in the early hours of December 31, when they were approached by officers who suspected the SUV they had just gotten out of was stolen.
Tolan's parents, who own the SUV, came out of the house to explain the situation. An altercation ensued and Tolan's mother was thrown against the garage door by an officer. According to Tolan's uncle, "Her son was on his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, 'What are you doing to my mom?' and the officer shot him -- while he was on the ground."
The 23 year old Tolan is the son of former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Bobby Tolan, and he himself has played for minor-league teams. Now he lies in a hospital bed with a bullet lodged in his liver, perhaps permanently, his future sports career in question.
Althought the incident occurred a week ago, it is attracting fresh interest amid reports of riots in Oakland, CA over the fatal shooting by a transit officer there of an unarmed black suspect who was lying helpless on the ground.
The Tolans would like to see the officer who shot their son charged with a crime. They have hired a lawyer, who stated, "There's no doubt in my mind that if these had been two white kids, they never would have been shot.”
Bellaire's assistant police chief told reporters, "As far as any allegations of racial profiling, I'd probably say that that's not really going to float." However, there has been no other explanation offered for why the officers might have thought the SUV was stolen.
There is now an internal police department investigation going on and the Harris County district attorney's office is also looking into whether to file charges.
This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Jan. 8, 2009.
Download video via RawReplay.com