Relatives Blame Houston Police Shooting on Racial Profiling

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The son of a retired major league baseball player was shot outside his Bellaire home New Year’s Eve by a police officer who thought the man was in a stolen SUV.

Bellaire Assistant Police Chief Byron Holloway says that the vehicle turned out not to be stolen.

The car belonged to the wounded man, 23-year-old Robert Tolan, son former big leaguer Bobby Tolan.

Police and the Harris County district attorney’s office were investigating. Tolan’s relatives accused police of singling him out because he is black.

Holloway says “As far any allegations of racial profiling, I’d probably say that’s not going to float.”

Robert Tolan was returning home with his 20-year-old cousin from a fast food restaurant about 2 a.m. when police pulled up as the pair got out of the SUV and walked toward Tolan’s parents’ house in the Houston enclave.

Officers ordered Tolan and his cousin to kneel to the ground, then to lay on the ground. Tolan’s parents heard the commotion and came outside. Relatives said when 1 of the officers pushed Tolan’s mother up against a wall of the house, Tolan leaned up to complain and was shot.

Holloway described it as an altercation as officers attempted to detain and question the pair.

Holloway identified the officer involved in the shooting as Sgt. Jeff Cotton. He has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Tolan, who was shot in the abdomen, was being treated at a Houston hospital. His injury is described as not life-threatening.

His father, Bobby Tolan, played for five teams during a 13-year major league career that ended in 1979. His best years were with the Cincinnati Reds in the early 1970s.

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