UPDATED: Federal Case Against Cop Who Shot Robbie Tolan Headed Back to Court

Categories: Courts

bellairepolice.jpg
Get ready for round two.
A federal appeals court has sent a civil rights claim against a white Bellaire police officer who shot an unarmed black man in his parents' driveway back to trial court.

Issued today by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the ruling revives a claim filed by RobbieTolan against Officer Jeffrey Cotton, who shot Tolan after a traffic stop in 2008. Cotton was acquitted of state charges of first-degree aggravated assault in 2009.

Tolan -- son of former St. Louis Cardinal and Cincinnati Red Bobby Tolan -- and his family filed a federal suit against Cotton, police officer John C. Edwards, and the City of Bellaire shortly after that verdict.

Citing "qualified immunity," the trial court summarily dismissed the excessive-force claims against Edwards and Cotton, and the Fifth Circuit appeals court upheld the summary judgment in 2013. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2014 vacated the judgment against Cotton and remanded the case to the appeals court, and now the case is back, minus one defendant, where it started.

Cotton and his partner pulled over an SUV occupied by Robbie Tolan, then 23, and his cousin, in the early morning hours of Dec. 31, 2008. Officer Edwards, who was patrolling the area, ran the truck's license plate -- unfortunately, he entered the wrong number and wound up with the plate of a car that had been stolen.


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