GALVESTON, Texas – The family of a handcuffed man seen in viral photos being escorted by mounted Galveston police officers using a rope is “appalled,” the family's attorney said.
Galveston Police Department Chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized in a statement and said the department will immediately do away with the procedure.
Who is the man being led?
Galveston police said Donald Neely, 43, was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing at 306 22nd St. after being warned several times not to do so, the police chief said in a statement.
The family attorney said Neely is mentally ill and homeless. In fact, family members had not seen Neely in three to four years before the photos appeared on social media. His sister immediately left to go to Galveston to try to find him.
Neely is the father of eight children, the family attorney said. He was “normal” until about a decade ago when he was diagnosed as bipolar.
The family has tried to contact him many times, but Neely resists their attempts, the attorney said.
Who are the officers?
Officer P. Brosch and Officer A. Smith performed the arrest. The police chief said the officers were familiar with Neely. Hale said the officers “showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport.”
“My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the police to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” Hale said.
Where was Neely being led?
Neely was being led to 21st Street and Market Street, a couple of blocks away, where the Mounted Patrol Unit was staging. The arrest took place on Saturday, and Neely was released the next day, the family attorney said.
Were body cameras active?
Police said the officers' body cameras were active at the time of Neely's arrest. Neely was handcuffed and then a line was clipped to the handcuffs, the chief said.
What is the department saying?
"Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the 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," Galveston PD Chief Vernon L. Hale III said.