Galveston Police Department in Texas have apologised after a shocking picture surfaced of a handcuffed black man being led through the streets by officers on horseback.
Donald Neely, 43, had been arrested for criminal trespassing close to a private property in Galveston, after having been warned several times not to trespass at this location.
However, instead of waiting for a transportation vehicle, two white officers – named as Officer P. Brosch and Officer A. Smith – tied a rope to Mr. Neely’s handcuffs and forced him walk to behind their horses for approximately eight blocks to where the mounted patrol unit was situated.
What you did here to this man, Donald Neely, is horrible and unacceptable.
I would say "We need answers," but nothing you can say would ever justify what you did to this man. Nothing at all. pic.twitter.com/OdVeqrFDcv
— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 6, 2019
Galveston Police Department have since released a public statement confirming a ‘line’ was ‘clipped’ to Mr. Neely’s handcuffs before he was led through the streets by mounted officers.
The department has said this method is ‘considered a best practice in certain scenarios’ (e.g. crowd control), however clarified it was used incorrectly in this instance.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale, III has said the officers had shown ‘poor judgement’, with the full statement reading:
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.
Police Chief Hale has now put a stop to the practice with immediate effect. However, it remains unclear what sort of disciplinary action – if any – the two officers involved in the incident will face.
The full statement reads:
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) August 6, 2019
The image has provoked disgust and outrage in Galveston and beyond, with many people repulsed that such a picture could even exist in the year 2019.
Adrienne Bell, a candidate for Texas’ 14th Congressional District in the US House, has written a statement calling for ‘swift action’:
We have verified with law enforcement officials in Galveston, that the photograph taken in Galveston is real. 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. It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community.
We will be watching for the Galveston Police Department’s response to their investigation of this matter and the accountability of the officers involved. Swift action is needed to ensure that no one is demeaned in this manner again, and arrest procedures are fair, just, and humane.
Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the Houston Chronicle:
All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that’s doesn’t make sense, period,
And I do understand this — if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.
Mr. Neely has since been released from jail on bond.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.