Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bellaire, Texas: Stuck in the 1950's

Here's a lovely story about a police shooting in Bellaire, TX, a small city completely surrounded by Houston and close to us:

"Tolan and his cousin Anthony Cooper, 20, were returning from a trip to a fast-food restaurant when he pulled up to his home ... A Bellaire police patrol car raced up when Tolan and his cousin got out of the 2004 Nissan Xterra and walked toward the front door. "They're in the driveway and (a Bellaire police officer) gets out of the car yelling, 'Stop. Stop," Morris said. "They didn't know who it was because the spotlight was on them." A Bellaire police sergeant and a backup officer ordered both men to the ground. They dropped to their knees then were told to lie on the ground, family members said. The commotion on the front lawn roused Tolan's parents, who came outside. The sergeant told them the Nissan had been stolen. "My sister was telling them, 'It was not a stolen vehicle. It's ours," said Tammy Morris. Family members said one of the officers pushed Tolan's mother up against the wall of the home. When that happened, Tolan leaned up and complained about the treatment she was receiving. "That's when the (sergeant) shot him," Tammy Morris said. White, the city spokeswoman, confirmed that the shooting happened when Tolan attempted to rise to his feet... A Bellaire High graduate, Tolan was working the late shift at a local restaurant the night before he was shot. He also once played in baseball's minor leagues with the Washington Nationals organization, family members said.""

The Bellaire police better hope there's another side to this story, since what it sounds like is that an innocent black man was just shot in an almost-100% white neighborhood. Criminal assault, Section 1983 violations - anything else you can think of?

The only contact I've had with the Bellaire police was appearing in court for a ticket. There were maybe 70 people there; 2 of us were white: a teenage boy and me. Everyone else was black or Hispanic. But seriously, I wouldn't live in a neighborhood like this, even being white. I'd rather take my chances with HPD - they seem to know the difference between real crime and imaginary offenses. Living in the city itself, I'm much less likely to find one of the boys spread-eagled on the hood of his car in our driveway someday. That makes me feel a little better, I have to say.

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