Jeffrey Cotton, the Bellaire police officer who shot Robbie Tolan in a controversial incident outside the Tolan home, was acquitted by a jury today after four and a half hours of deliberation.
He had been charged with aggravated assault in the 2008 incident, in which he followed Tolan's car home and then shot him in the driveway. Cotton testified he saw Tolan reaching for what could have been a gun, and an HPD officer testified Cotton had acted in according to his training.
Cotton's reaction to the verdict, via Houston Chronicle video, is here.
The incident triggered outcries from minorities who said they had been stopped by cops in Bellaire far more often than whites.
A post-verdict statement from the Tolan family -- father Bobby Tolan is a former major league ballplayer -- mentions that issue.
"We are obviously disappointed the jury did not convict Jeffrey Cotton," the statement said.
"Cotton's criminal trial was only the first step in seeing that some measure of justice is done in Bellaire. The city has not changed its policy of racial profiling. Indeed, the city -- from Mayor Cindy Seigel on down -- has dug in its heels in defense of the unconstitutional practices which very nearly led to Robbie's death at the hands of Jeffrey Cotton," it says.
"The fight now moves to federal court. There, the defendants and charges are different, and the standard is not the same," it says. "We remain hopeful that our family may still find justice."
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