Robbie Tolan files lawsuit against Bellaire

May 1, 2009 9:04:29 PM PDT
Robbie Tolan, the man shot by a Bellaire police officer on New Year's Eve, said he was assaulted and his constitutional and civil rights were violated as a result of that incident. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

On Friday, Robbie Tolan and his family filed a civil lawsuit against the two officers involved, the top brass in the city of Bellaire, and its police department, accusing them of racial profiling and violating the civil rights of the Tolan family.

The most serious charge is against Jeffrey Cotton. He's the Bellaire police officer who originally pulled over Robbie Tolan.

In the 29-page lawsuit, the police department is accused of being engaged in a cover up and that Cotton allegedly told officers on the scene "to get their stories straight."

"As Robbie was being wheeled away, he heard Mr. Cotton say to the other officers, 'We got to get our stories straight.' It indicates they were immediately engaged in a cover up," said Geoffrey Berg, attorney for the Tolan family.

Robbie Tolan was shot by Bellaire police on New Year's Eve in front of his own home. It was later revealed officers mistakenly thought Tolan was driving a stolen car.

Another allegation is aimed at Cotton's police qualifications, saying Cotton failed to renew his firearms training for at least ten years, and was not qualified to be a police officer.

Cotton's attorney would not comment specifically about the lawsuit but told us, "We welcome the lawsuit. The citizens will now see the truth come out."

As for the lawsuit, there is no monetary amount listed. Berg said the Tolan family's main motive is to protect the civil rights of others in Bellaire.

"What it adds up to is the undeniable truth that Bellaire engages in racial profiling," said Berg.

The City of Bellaire declined to comment about the case. Besides this civil suit, there is a criminal case moving forward. No trial date has been set for that case.

You can read the entire lawsuit right here. (Warning: Some language might be considered offensive.)

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