The chief of the Galveston Police Department has issued an apology, after a photo went viral showing two of his mounted officers leading a handcuffed black suspect down the street by a rope.
What are the details?
On Saturday, African-American man Donald Neely, 43, was arrested in downtown Galveston on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge and handcuffed. The arresting officers were involved in a prior arrest, according to the Dallas News, so a squad car wasn’t immediately available for Neely’s transport as per typical protocol.
Instead, the two officers on horseback led Neely down the street — using what appears to be a lead rope reportedly “clipped” to his cuffs — to where other mounted officers were congregated. A photo of the policemen leading Neely went viral as social media followers erupted, criticizing the optics of a black man being led by white officers with a rope and likening the scene to one out of the days of slavery.
On Monday, Chief Vernon L. Hale III, who also happens to be black, responded to public outcry over the image with a statement:
First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport until at the location of 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.
Chief Hale’s apology evidently wasn’t enough for some.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke weighed in on the image on Tuesday, posting The New York Times’ report on the incident with the message: “A black man, dragged with a rope by police officers on horses, in 2019. This moment demands accountability, justice, and honestly — because we need to call this out for what it is: racism at work.”