Cotton Case Update: ‘Scared’ Father Testifies
Robert Tolan, father of Robbie Tolan who was shot by Bellaire Police Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton on Dec. 31, 2008, testified Thursday in 232nd district court.
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.
Robert, 64, is a retired professional major league baseball player who has lived in Bellaire for 15 years. He lives at 804 Woodstock with his wife Marian, son Robbie and nephew Anthony Cooper.
Robert said in his testimony on Thursday that he and his wife were at a friend’s house playing cards on Dec. 30. They came home that night sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. and changed into their pajamas. Robert said his wife wanted to wait up for her son and nephew, something she usually does because she’s worried about them getting home safely.
Robert said he was in the kitchen of his home when he heard a loud noise outside that sounded like people arguing.
He went to the front door with his wife close behind him to see what was going on and he heard, “They say we stole a car. They say we stole a car.”
Robert testified that he said to his son and nephew, “Shut the f**k up and get on the ground.”
Robert said that all he could think about was getting his kids on the ground and taking care of the situation.
“I was scared,” he said.
He said that he couldn’t tell if Edwards was a police officer or not because he was shining a flash light in his face, but he knew that he had a gun.
Robert said that he told Edwards, “This is our son and our nephew. We live here.”
Edwards then told Robert to go over to his suburban, which was parked in their driveway, and put his hands on the suburban.
Robert said Edwards asked him if he had any weapons on him and he said “no sir.”
Robert heard a bang and turned to look at the garage door and heard a gunshot. He saw his wife fall to her knees and start praying.
Robert said he did not see Cotton arrive at the scene, but knew his son had been shot when he saw his wife praying.
Robert and Marian were put into police cars after their son was shot and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
“I was left in the police car and I heard come over the radio, ‘the vehicle is not stolen.’”
Robert said his sister-in-law showed up at their house and took him and his wife to the hospital.
“Despite repeated requests by Robbie’s family, none of the Bellaire Police Department officers on the scene would tell them whether he was dead or alive,” the lawsuit said.
Cotton is expected to testify before the jury at some point throughout the trial. The trial is expected to end sometime next week.
“What we’re seeing is nothing that we weren’t expecting,” said David Donahue, legal administrator for Cotton’s attorney, Paul Aman. “We still feel good about it.”