Anne (netmouse) wrote,

Something I've not seen in the blogosphere, perhaps because it was local to california

Last week I took a business trip to San Diego. I don't own a TV at home so while staying at a hotel I tend to turn the TV on. Last week one of the things I watched on TV was a Febuary 17 realsports piece about how a young black man, Robbie Tolan, was shot on December 31 in Bellaire by a police officer, right in front of his parents, in front of their home, after police officers followed Tolan home after allegedly having run his plates and mistakenly (the plate number was entered incorrectly) found him to be driving a stolen car. Robbie was unarmed, lying on the ground, when he was shot. According to him and his parents he had risen slightly from a prone position and called out to protest his mother's being shoved against the garage after his parents came out of their home to speak to the officers. His father was being detained up against a car by the other officer at the time. Robbie survived the near-fatal shooting though apparently the bullet will remain lodged in his liver (it entered through his chest and passed through a lung on the way there). Now, he and his parents are still waiting for results of an investigation into the shooting.

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.
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