Two white Galveston, Texas police officers are facing strong criticism after photos emerged showing them on horseback leading a black man through the streets with a rope.
The man’s name is Donald Neely, 43. His sister-in-law, Christin Neely, condemned the photos on her Facebook page. The police chief in Galveston, Texas now says that he has suspended use of the “technique,” and that it shouldn’t have been used in this instance.
In a press release, Galveston Police Department said the man was Donald Neely, and the officers were P. Brosch and A. Smith. They say Neely was “arrested for Criminal Trespass.” The disturbing pictures were tweeted out by Adrienne Bell, who is running for Congress.
“It is hard to understand why these officers felt this young man required a leash, as he was handcuffed and walking between two mounted officers,” Bell said in a statement. “It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust and questions from the community.”
Police say “Neely was handcuffed and a line was clipped to the handcuffs. Mister Neely was being led to 21st and Market, where the Mounted Patrol Unit was staging from.”
There were body cameras and “the officers were familiar with Mister Neely, and were aware that he had been warned against trespassing upon this specific location several times.”
“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” wrote the Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III.
Here’s what you need to know:
Neely’s Relative Says He’s Homeless & Mentally Ill
In the passionate and angry Facebook post, Christin Neely wrote:
“Imagine that you have a relative who is homeless and mentally ill… Imagine that YOU are aware that living on the streets is dangerous, unsanitary, makes you a target for crime/law enforcement and isolates you from your family but YOU CAN’T make that relative understand that despite your many efforts. Imagine searching the streets of a city for days looking for your loved one, to no avail. Have any of you ever went to breakfast, lunch and dinner at the local homeless shelters hoping you’d find your loved one having a meal with hopes to kidnap them and bring them home. Imagine locating your loved one, getting them in your car and they jump out of your moving vehicle to keep you from taking them from where they now call home. Just imagine for one second being 1 of his 8 children who have been fatherless for years and your father isn’t incarcerated or dead. With all of that in mind, now imagine scrolling fb and seeing said loved one being escorted to jail on foot by 2 officers on horses, hands cuffed behind his back with a rope attached. In 2019???? He was treated like an animal paraded through the streets by two incompetent a*sholes!”
She added: “I have read some of the most hateful and insensitive comments in concern to the incident involving my BIL Donald Neely’s recent arrest by GPD. People don’t even understand the depth of mental illness and how it affects the person and their family. WE HAVE TRIED AND ARE CONTINUOUSLY TRYING TO BRING HIM HOME! Please continue to pray for my family! #justicefordonald #mentalillnessisreal #awareness.”
Terrie Cotton, the mother of Neely’s child, wrote on Facebook: “I may not speak to him daily .Hell its been years since I have. But he is still my child’s father and this has broke my heart. He is not a threat to any he is very kind hearted and would help anyone. No on (sic) deserve to b threaten in this manner.He is not a dog r slave they have went to far. I pray he is ok and the police that did this r fired.”
Galveston Police Say the Use of Horses Was ‘Not Correct’
Police explained their actions in their own Facebook post.
“We became aware Monday afternoon of a post circulating about a Saturday arrest involving two mounted patrol officers and how the arrested individual was transported,” Chief Chief Vernon L. Hale, III wrote.
“A transportation unit was not immediately available at the time of the arrest and a man was handcuffed and escorted beside two police officers on horses. While this technique of using mounted horses to transport a person during an arrest is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not the correct use for this instance.”
According to the police: “Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”
The chief added: “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique. The Police Chief has taken immediate action to suspend this technique of transportation during arrests.”