Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Robbie Tolan Shooter Goes to Trial

The Dallas Morning News reports on the justification offered by the cop who shot Robbie Tolan. We discussed this one shortly after it happened.

A Houston area police officer says his heart sank after learning the man he had shot had been mistaken for an auto theft suspect.

But Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton defended the New Year's Eve 2008 shooting, telling jurors Friday he was protecting himself, believing the man, an aspiring baseball player, had been reaching in his waistband for a gun.

Cotton, with the Bellaire Police Department, is on trial for shooting Robert Tolan at his family's home after officers mistakenly tried to arrest him for driving a stolen car.

The shooting sparked accusations of racial profiling, which Cotton and Bellaire police have denied.

Cotton, 40, is being tried on one count of aggravated assault by a public servant and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

I'm sure his heart did sink when he discovered the mistake. This must be a cop's worst nightmare. The answer: better training and much stricter psychological screening.

About the possible life sentence he's facing, doesn't that sound a bit severe to you? I know Texas has the reputation of dishing out excessive sentences, and I certainly don't suggest cops should get any kind of special treatment, but life sounds a bit heavy for aggravated assault. What would they do if Tolan had died?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. MikeB: “The answer: better training and much stricter psychological screening.”

    How to you screen for panic? Shouldn’t this really fall under your 10% theory, that 1/10 cops are unsuitable for carrying a gun on duty?