Bellaire shooting victim speaks out

March 2, 2009 4:04:59 PM PST
The Justice Department is sending a mediator to Bellaire to help with the investigation into the controversial police shooting of one of their residents. [LETTER FROM BELLAIRE: See the letter sent to Robbie Tolan's attorney]

Robbie Tolan says he still has nagging pain and nightmares about the night that he was shot by Bellaire police. Police mistakenly thought he was driving a stolen vehicle. On Wednesday, the minor league baseball player spoke publicly about the shooting.

Tolan arrived at a southwest Houston church with his mother, father, attorneys and pastor. It was the first time he's spoken to the Houston media. He talked about his injuries, having nightmares of that night and how he hopes his story will have an impact.

Tolan says he will never be the same again, physically or emotionally.

"I'm pretty messed up right now," Tolan said. "I can't do anything I'm use to doing."

A bullet remains in his liver after the New Year's Eve shooting. Just basic physical movement is a challenge, let alone something like baseball.

"My main concern right now is my health," said Tolan. "I don't even know that I'll be able to play again."

Tolan was applauded at times by members of the church as he spoke. The 23-year-old says he has replayed the night he was shot in his head again and again and asked why.

"Or the fact that I was black and lived in Bellaire," he said.

Tolan says he is hopeful his story will be a catalyst for change. The case has received national attention and brought widespread discussion on allegations of racial profiling.

"I hate to play the race card but I mean that's what it is," said Tolan.

Tolan says he has nothing to say to the officer who shot him, but his mother has a definite idea of justice for that officer and the one who called for backup.

"I want them to go to jail," said Marian Tolan.

The Tolans say they never expected to be placed in the spotlight, but now that they are, they hope something will come out of it.

"It is my prayer that God uses Robbie and uses his case to make real changes," said Marian.

City says to stay silent?

Robbie Tolan's attorney told reporters that he received a letter from the city of Bellaire that tried to silence them about the case.

"They have threatened us by telling us that we should not be talking publicly about this case," said attorney David Berg. "I cannot tell you how adamant the law firms and the Tolan family who are involved in this case are in speaking truth to power and telling the truth about what happened in Bellaire December 31 to Robbie Tolan."

One church member who is not a resident of Bellaire called on the Bellaire mayor to resign. Robbie responded by saying he would like to see her step down. The mayor was not available for response Wednesday.

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