Two Cases Of Police Brutality Raise Racial Questions In Houston

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From the NY Times:

HOUSTON — This is a town that prides itself on being among the most diverse and tolerant cities in the country, but two recent cases of alleged police brutality against young black men have stirred anger among civil rights leaders and left some residents wondering just how far race relations in their city have come.

Two weeks ago, a black teenager and his family came forward and said that eight officers had brutally beaten him on the ground in the parking lot of a storage facility, after he had surrendered to them. A surveillance camera at the business caught the episode on videotape, which a black community organizer, named Quanell X, turned over to the mayor and the police chief.

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Then, on Tuesday, a jury in Houston acquitted a police sergeant who had shot an unarmed black man in his family’s driveway in the upscale neighborhood of Bellaire, after another officer had mistaken him for a car thief.

The sergeant, Jeffrey Cotton, testified that he saw the young man, Robert Tolan, jump up, spin around and draw his hand across his waistband as if he were pulling a gun. The shooting occurred in dim light during a chaotic scene on the last night of 2008, just after the police had ordered Mr. Tolan to lie down on the walkway to his front door and had physically forced his mother up against a garage door.

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