Protest held over Bellaire shooting

March 2, 2009 4:05:03 PM PST
Community activists gathered in front of the Bellaire Police Department Tuesday to protest the shooting of a resident who was shot by an officer on New Year's Eve. They say he was a victim of 'racial profiling.' [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It was a somewhat restrained protest. About 20 members of the New Black Panther party and Ministers Against Crime were on the steps of the Bellaire Police Department Tuesday to protest the shooting of Robert Tolan.

Tolan was a baseball player at Bellaire High School, planning to go to spring training in the minor leagues. Now he's hospitalized, a police bullet lodged in his liver.

Early last Wednesday morning, Tolan and a friend were in the driveway of his parents' home when they were confronted by a Bellaire police officer, who ran Tolan's truck license plate. He suspected the truck was stolen.

A few minutes later, Tolan lay shot in the driveway. The truck proved not to be stolen and Tolan didn't have a gun.

The shooting is now being investigated by the district attorney's office. Two investigators are assigned. Witnesses will be interviewed and evidence examined.

"When the report is delivered to the head of the bureau and the first assistant, and then we sit down and go over it and we make a decision," said Harris County DA Pat Lykos.

That decision is whether or not the case goes before the grand jury. That may take several weeks.

But the shooting is the talk of Bellaire.

"I don't know how you think it's stolen before checking it out and especially pulling a gun and shooting somebody," said David Dugan, who works in the area.

"Hell if you do and hell if you don't," said Bellaire resident Harry Bonin. "When you're in a predicament, you don't know what you truly have to do."

The Bellaire city manager had no comment, other than to say the city is anxious for the investigation to be concluded. As for the Tolan family, their attorney says they weren't contacted about Tuesday's protest. They're spending their time by their son's hospital bed.

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