Texas police apologize for photo of officers on horseback leading suspect away by rope

PHOTO: This photo of mounted police officers arresting Donald Neely in Galveston, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, caused an uproar in the community after it was posted to Facebook, prompting the Galveston Police Department to release an apology for the incident.PlayErin Toberman/Facebook
WATCH Photo of mounted officers leading black man by rope sparks outrage

Police in Galveston, Texas, have apologized after a controversial photo was posted on Facebook over the weekend showing two white police officers on horseback leading a black man away using a rope.

The man, identified as Donald Neely, 43, was arrested on charges of criminal trespassing. The arresting officers were identified by the Galveston Police Department as Officer P. Brosch and Officer A. Smith.

The image immediately caused an uproar in the community.

“You don’t even do a dog like that,” Sherri Kelly of Spring, Texas, told Houston ABC station KTRK. “I don’t care. That’s inhumane.”

“Where were they walking him to and why did they rope him if he was handcuffed? I don’t think it’s right,” added Galveston resident Cynthia Orise.

Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III released an apology on behalf of the police department Monday night on Facebook.

PHOTO: This photo of mounted police officers arresting Donald Neely in Galveston, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, caused an uproar in the community after it was posted to Facebook, prompting the Galveston Police Department to release an apology for the incident. Erin Toberman/Facebook
This photo of mounted police officers arresting Donald Neely in Galveston, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019, caused an uproar in the community after it was posted to Facebook, prompting the Galveston Police Department to release an apology for the incident.

“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” the statement began. “I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest.”

The statement also said that even though it appears that Neely was being led away by a rope that bound his hands together, the suspect was handcuffed and a line was "clipped to the handcuffs."

Hale said that the officers were "familiar with Mister Neely" and that Neely "had been warned against trespassing upon this specific location several times."

“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,” Hale said.

The apology, however, reportedly did not satisfy Neely’s sister, who told KTRK that she was upset when she saw the image. She said that her brother is mentally ill and homeless.

“We understand the negative perception of this action,” a Galveston Police Department official said in the Facebook post.

“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 used correctly in this instance,” the post read.

The police confirmed that the officers involved with the arrest were using body cameras at the time. KTRK reports that the officers do not face any discipline for their actions.