[guest post by Dana]
This is really ugly. Especially given that it’s 2019 and the prisoner didn’t resist arrest. But what makes the degradation even worse is that, according to the Chief of Police Vernon Haley, “the officers could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest”. But instead they chose to humiliate the prisoner by walking him through the streets on a leash:
The Galveston Police Department has issued an apology after disturbing images of an arrest sparked outrage on social media. The photo, taken by a witness, shows white officers leading a black man through the streets of Galveston, on horseback, tethered to what looked like a leash.
Donald Neely, 43, was arrested by the Galveston Police Department on Saturday, August 3 and charged with criminal trespassing.
Police say Neely went into the Merrill Lynch building on the corner of 22nd and Mechanic Street and refused to leave.
Police say the officers led him around the corner of 21st and Market, where the mounted patrol unit was staging when the photo was taken.
Neely was also arrested at the same building three and a half weeks ago. According to court documents, on July 12, Neely entered the Galveston Park Board office on the second floor “without the consent” of a park board member. He was charged with criminal trespassing that day too.
You can see video here.
According to Neely’s sister, her brother is homeless and mentally ill. Neely has been been charged with criminal trespassing at least six times this year, including an arrest in Galveston.
After the video was released on social media, outrage followed. Galveston Police Chief Vernon Haley offered his apologies to Neely on behalf of the department, and said that the approved technique (the method of handcuffing someone and escorting them between two mounted officers is usually used in volatile situations) would be reviewed:
“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 unit 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.”
NAACP president James Douglas commented upon seeing a photo of the incident:
When I looked at the picture, I saw utter disrespect for another human being. The first thing that came to my mind was this is 2019 and not 1819.
Douglas said the image is disturbing because it harkens back to the dark days of the antebellum South when black people were forced to walk alongside mounted slave owners. During the Civil Rights Movement, mounted patrol units often evoked fear among peaceful protesters.
According to the police, the two officers were not facing formal disciplinary action. Neely’s family and attorney are asking for the body cams from the two officers. The body cams had been activated.
“If this individual had been white, this never would have happened,” Douglas said.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)