The Galveston, Texas police department is under fire after photos surfaced over the weekend showing two horse-mounted white police officers leading a black man in handcuffs down a street with a rope.
The two officers, identified by police as P. Brosch and A. Smith, arrested Donald Neely, 43, on Saturday for criminal trespass after several warnings, according to the Galveston Police Department. But instead of waiting for a transport vehicle to take Neely back to where the other officers were stationed, the cops on horseback tied a rope around his handcuffs and forced him to walk behind their horses for several blocks.
“We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique,” the Galveston Police Department wrote in a Monday Facebook post. “The practice was not used correctly in this instance.”
Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale also issued a statement apologizing to Neely, who was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing. Hale added that the two officers were “familiar” with Neely.
He said that Neely was in the controversial position for about two blocks as they made their way to “where the Mounted Patrol Unit was staging from,” and insisted the officers “did not have any malicious intent.”
The technique, he said, is usually used in volatile situations, such as for crowd control.
“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. “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”
The chief’s statement did not say whether the two officers, whose body cameras were activated during the incident, have faced disciplinary action. A police spokesperson declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Tuesday.
The image, which was taken by an onlooker on Saturday, has since gone viral and sparked outrage.
James Douglas, president of Houston’s NAACP chapter, told The Daily Beast the photo shows a lack of respect for the black community and “poor judgment.”
“This is 2019 and not 1819,” he said in an email. “Even though the chief indicated that the technique would be discontinued, he failed to address the lack of respect demonstrated by the officers in the episode.”
Adrienne Bell, a Texas Democratic congressional candidate, tweeted the photos on Monday and said the scene “invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community.”
“Swift action is needed to ensure that no one is demeaned in this manner again, and arrest procedures are fair, just, and humane,” Bell wrote on Monday.
Neely is free on bond, a police spokesperson said Tuesday.