HOUSTON, Tx. – A few months ago, social media exploded after images surfaced showing a black man being led by officers on horseback through city streets after he was arrested.
And on Wednesday, Texas authorities released the never before seen footage of Donald Neely’s experience with the Galveston police. (Video published below)
Neely, 43, was arrested by Galveston authorities for criminal trespassing on August 3. But instead of radioing for a cruiser to help transport the individual back to the jail facility, the two officers used a combination of handcuffs and a rope tether to walk Neely back into town.
It’s still unclear why the officers didn’t call for another unit to transport Neely for booking… and it didn’t look good to those who witnessed it.
One officer can be heard acknowledging that they would most likely face backlash for the way the arrest went down.
“This is gonna look really bad,” the officer says.
But surprisingly, the handcuffed suspect doesn’t seem to take offense.
“I’m not embarrassed,” the suspect says in return.
“I’m glad you’re not embarrassed, Mr. Neely,” the officer replies.
Neely has reportedly been living on the streets and has a history of mental illness. He was marched from the scene of the arrest back into town, where onlookers quickly took notice. After photos of the incident went viral, activists spoke out, calling the move racially insensitive.
HORSEBACK ARREST BACKLASH: Body camera footage has provided a new perspective on a controversial arrest in Galveston, Texas, with police officers on horseback leading an African-American suspect. @SteveOsunsami reports. https://t.co/hoEeDnA7ik pic.twitter.com/ulglIlD8sX
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) October 3, 2019
As the officers moved through town, one officer asks the other if they’d like to move to a side street that would have less traffic.
“Yeah, I want the less eyesight,” the officer replies.
The body cam video lasts about 30 minutes.
“We’re walking. Let’s go. Stand next to me because I’m going to drag you if not. You have to stand next to me,” an officer says to Neely.
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Eventually, after approximately half an hour, a marked police SUV arrives to finish transporting the suspect.
Police have already formally apologized to the man after intense backlash arose following a photo of the arrest being posted online. Additionally, an investigation into the matter was commissioned by the Texas Rangers and a Galveston County Sheriff’s Office. Their decision concluded that while it wasn’t the best move, the officers did not break the law.
“In August, Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale said the horseback arrest was ‘a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios,’ but he believed the officers ‘showed poor judgment in this instance,'” said a report from CBS News.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 3, 2019
Neely’s family had pushed for the Texas authorities to release the body cam footage, having their wish granted on Wednesday.
“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,” Hale said.
The Galveston chief is now responsible for deciding whether the two officers involved with the controversial arrest will be disciplined for their role in the incident.
“I am studying the report now and will use its findings to make decisions in the near future about the next steps for the department,” Hale said.
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Watch the full body cam video of the arrest below.