'Race and gender neutral': Authorities say Galveston officers escorted handcuffed man properly


GALVESTON, Texas – Videos and photos of a handcuffed man being led by a rope and mounted patrol officers have led to backlash against the Galveston Police Department.

On Wednesday, Geoff Gainer, the president of the Galveston Municipal Police Association, said the officers in question did exactly what they were trained to do.

Gainer said the officers escorted Donald Neely in a technique that is the "only escort technique that our officers have been trained in."

He said the practice is accepted nationwide and it is race and gender-neutral.

Gainer said there are "no other written guidelines for the transport of a person in custody by mounted patrol."

What happened

Galveston police said Neely, 43, was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing at 306 22nd St. after being warned several times not to do so, Galveston Police Department Chief Vernon L. Hale III said.

After the incident, Hale apologized and said the department will immediately do away with the procedure.

Who are the officers?

Officer P. Brosch and Officer A. Smith performed the arrest. The police chief said the officers were familiar with Neely.

“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 Saturday, and Neely was released the next day, the family attorney said.

Here is Gainer's complete statement:

"During a time when our country is roiled by recent tragic events, it is extremely disappointing to see the state and national media fanning the flames of discord in our community between our police officers and the people we are sworn to protect and serve by upholding the laws instituted by our elected officials.

"Donald Neely was under arrest for criminal trespass. At the time of the arrest, our mounted officers called for a unit to transport him to the jail. Our officers were told no units were available, and they would need to wait for a unit to be released from the jail. Because they were unaware of how long they would be waiting, our officers determined the best action would be to escort Mr. Neely to the mounted unit.

"The technique that our officers utilized to escort Mr. Neely is an accepted practice nationwide. It is race and gender neutral. It is a universal technique meant to protect the individual being escorted, as well as the public. It is so universal in its application that it is the only escort technique that our officers have been trained in.

"In fact, there are no other written guidelines for the transport of a person in custody by mounted patrol.

"Our officers were faced with a difficult choice, as they are every day they do their jobs. With an individual in custody and under arrest, with no motorized units available for assistance, they followed national best practice and department guidelines for safe transport.

"Their job is to promote public safety and enforce our laws. They did this to the best of their ability, followed all training and protocols they had been provided, and maintained their professionalism throughout.

"In short, they did their jobs for the people of Galveston. We believe the Chief said it best during his town hall meeting when he said this was a failure of training and policy. We support the Chief in his review of the policy and procedures and are confident he will make the necessary changes."

Kevin Lawrence, executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), added:

“Contrary to what some have said, these officers did not use poor judgment. They did exactly what they are trained to do.

"The prisoner in this case, Mr. Neely, publicly stated the officers were 'very nice,' treated him 'very well' and does not take exception to his treatment by the officers.

"This case exemplifies the disconnect the media and general population have with law enforcement. There are no good optics when making an arrest or detaining a suspect. It is the very nature of the job we ask our law enforcement officers to do, and very often there are no good options. Officers are expected to choose the least bad option and follow best practice and department guidelines, and these officers did exactly that.”