Cotton Case: Jury Deliberating Guilty Or Not Guilty
The jury for the trial of Bellaire Police Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton started deliberating today after hearing closing arguments from both sides.
Cotton is charged with shooting Robbie Tolan on the front lawn of his Bellaire home on New Year’s Eve 2008 after Bellaire Police Officer John Edwards mistakenly thought he was driving a stolen vehicle.
The trial has been going on for almost a week and it is unknown how long it will take the jury to reach a verdict.
Defense attorney Paul Aman tried to convey to the jury that Cotton is not guilty.
“Police are not in the safety business,” Aman said. “They do what they are trained to do.”
Aman said that Cotton was following the training he received and he did what a trained peace officer is supposed to do.
Aman said that Marian Tolan testified that she thought the police were there to harass them. Before Dec. 31, 2008, Cotton had never met the Tolan’s or been to their residence. He also had never been in a shooting of any kind before.
After Cotton shot Robbie Tolan, he went up to him with his gun drawn and asked him, “what were you reaching for?” Both Robbie Tolan and Marian Tolan testified that they heard Cotton ask him that, Aman said.
“Each one of you is responsible for this verdict,” Aman said. “Any one of you can stop the State from convicting him.”
Aman said that if Robbie Tolan would have just stayed on the ground and followed police orders, Cotton would have cuffed him and searched him.
“His only option was to yell ‘stop’ like he did and fire,” he said. “At the end of the day he is not guilty.”
“Today you 12 people are the government. Today you 12 people are affecting our lives,” District Attorney Clint Greenwood said to the jury.
The state tried to prove that Cotton acted recklessly when he shot Robbie Tolan. Cotton said in his testimony on Friday that he didn’t shoot him recklessly, he intended to shoot him.
Greenwood said that if they could prove that Cotton shot Robbie Tolan intentionally and knowingly, they could prove he was reckless.
Greenwood said that with four clicks of a button Officer John Edwards could have found out that he had entered the wrong license plate number. The license plate number that Edwards entered was the number for a black Nissan Ultima sedan, not a SUV.
Greenwood believes both Edwards and Cotton were trying to be the “hero” that night. Administration had come down on Cotton to bring down the crime in Bellaire so everyone was concerned with “catching the crooks.”
On the night of the shooting, Anthony Cooper had a cell phone in his hand, which was later taken from him by Marian Tolan.
In Edwards’ testimony he said that he was afraid that Anthony Cooper’s cell phone was a weapon. Greenwood said he had never testified to that before and that he heard it from an expert witness.
“He can’t get in front of the phone death,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood told the jury that Cotton added to the failure when he left the police department without instructing everyone else to go to the scene.
Greenwood said the city of Bellaire paid J.W. Conley $20,000 to say that Cotton and Edwards did everything right that night because otherwise “Bellaire is sunk.”
“At the end of the day an unarmed kid is shot,” Greenwood said. “Jeff Cotton is guilty of aggravated assault. Do the right thing.”