A Black man from Galveston, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the mounted police of the Galveston Police Department after they led him on a rope after arresting him. According to the Galveston County Daily News, Donald Neely accused the police, who rode horseback while patrolling through the city, of causing him “embarrassment, humiliation and fear” when they attached a rope to his hands and walked him five blocks to their horse trailer after arresting him for trespassing in August 2019.
Neely, who was homeless at the time of his arrest, has sued the department and the city for $1 million for emotional distress, malicious prosecution and negligence, according to The Washington Post. A video of mounted police walking him along the street went viral on social media and caused outrage, with the scene drawing comparisons to the inhumane treatment of enslaved people in the 1800s, The Post reported.
“Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit reads according to the Daily News. “He suffered from fear because one of the horses was acting dangerously, putting Neely in fear of being drug down the street by a run-away horse.”
The Post reported that the arresting officers were Patrick Brosch and Amanda Lohmann, who attached the rope to Neely’s handcuffs. No charges were filed against Brosch and Lohmann. The arrest was reviewed by Texas Rangers but the findings weren’t released because Texas state laws prohibit public disclosure of information regarding police officers accused of misconduct, the Daily News noted.
The Galveston Police Chief Said the Police Showed Poor Judgement During the Arrest
Neely, 44, was arrested for trespassing after he was found sleeping under an awning of the Galveston Park Board of Trustees building. Neely had been arrested six times for trespassing at the same building in 2019, the Daily News said.
“You were asked by the property manager not to come back, ever,” Brosch is heard telling Neely in body camera footage, which can be seen above. “You’ve been arrested here multiple times for a criminal trespass. You know that.”
Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III posted a statement to the Galveston Police Department’s Facebook page last year saying that Lohmann and Brosch’s actions didn’t show discernment.
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.
In the video, Brosch can also be heard saying: “This is going to look so bad. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed Mr. Neely.”
Neely Said He Was Embarrassed After the Video of His Arrest Went Viral
In October 2019, Neely spoke about his arrest and how he felt about it being seen on the internet by millions of people. He told the Houston Chronicle that he was embarrassed.
“I wasn’t embarrassed walking between the horses until I seen the video,” Neely said. “It came back and hurt me because I did not know I was getting video recorded by the public. Now I feel embarrassed.”
Neely, who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, now lives with his sister, the Chronicle reported.
Neely’s lawyer, Julie Ketterman, shamed the police for arresting Neely in such a manner.
“I don’t care what’s in the books — for anybody to think for a second that would be OK, not just for a black man but for any human being, mentally ill or otherwise, is just absurd to me,” Ketterman told the Chronicle. “The black eye that I think it put — not just on Galveston, but Texas now — infuriates me.”
Since Neely’s arrest last year, the mounted police patrol has been discontinued, according to the Galveston Daily News.