It was heart-wrenching to hear his parents tell the story of what happened, including that they were detained by the police in separate cars and not allowed to go with their son to the hospital when the ambulance came. Robert and Marion Tolan have lived in Bellaire for some 15 years. They are the only black family living in their neighborhood. A former baseball player, Bobbie Tolan is well known in the area. When the came out their front door in their pajamas on new year's eve they had no expectation that they or their son would face lethal force. They expected to be able to clear things up through discussion. That seems like a reasonable expectation to me.
Houston news coverage of this story indicates the Bellaire police department is researching their stopped car cases to look for evidence of racial profiling. The policeman who shot Tolan had a history of citations for things like using too much force. I'll be interested to see what the city investigation concludes about the incident.
However we work on race in this country in the next few years, I hope we can find a number of real and lasting ways to try and make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen any more. It's not just about race, of course, it's also about having a society that reacts strongly to evidence of police violence and abuse of power. I was saddened to watch the report on this case and to search for it afterwards in the news online and see so little coverage and so little discussion.