One woman was hurt by a police horse when a mounted officer walked toward a crowd of demonstrators Friday during a rally in downtown Houston over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
On Sunday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner apologized to the woman, identified as Melissa.
“You have the right to march, demonstrate and protest peacefully,” Turner wrote on Twitter. “A part of our job is to enable you to do just that safely. What happened with mounted patrol should not have happened and for that please accept my apology."
Later at a news conference, Turner said he had not spoken to the woman on the phone yet but hoped that she was doing well. He said the city is reviewing its procedures.
“We are taking a look (at) how we can better deploy our resources to keep that from happening again so you or anyone else can exercise your Constitutional right and we can maintain the peace. I hope you are ok. Please accept my apology," Turner said.
Melissa told KPRC 2 that she plans to take legal action against the Houston Police Department regarding the incident.
A woman who witnessed the event captured it on video and shared it on Twitter Friday.
The video shows a police horse knocking down Melissa as the mounted officer moved toward a crowd of demonstrators. Those around Melissa erupted in shock.
Moments after the incident, demonstrators appear to throw things at a group of mounted police officers.
In a tweet Saturday, HPD said it is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident.
We are aware of a video circulating showing one of our mounted patrol horses and a citizen. We are currently reviewing the circumstances behind the incident. #hounews— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 30, 2020
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo reviewed the video and said it might of been unintentional.
“Officers were taking rocks and bottles, I would ask the public to look at where that mounted officer, where his gaze is at he’s looking right ahead. We’re going to get body worn camera video to see better and access better what happened. And then that young lady is walking backwards I don’t think she ever saw the horse coming either,” said Acevedo.
The demonstration Friday began around 2 p.m. at Discovery Green and continued as a march to city hall. The event was initially peaceful but later in the evening and into the night groups blocked highway entrances, threw objects at officers, smashed the windows and windshields of a police cruiser and shattered the windows of area businesses.
About 150 people were arrested during the rally and a handful of HPD officers sustained minor injuries.
Floyd, 46, a Houston native, grew up in the Third Ward and graduated from Jack Yates High School where he played football.
He died in Minneapolis police custody while being arrested Monday. Videos show an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground while he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Demonstrations are being held across the country in the wake of his death.
WARNING: The video below shows the Houston incident on Friday. It contains graphic language.