National civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump on Monday announced his official demand for police to produce body camera footage from officers who led a black, mentally ill man by a rope through Downtown Galveston on horseback on Aug. 3.
Together, Crump and his co-counsel Jeff Daniel Clark shared their official request under the Texas Public Information Act during a mid-morning press conference at Jack Johnson Park. If the department does not provide timely release of the video, Crump said he will organize a “Great March on Galveston” in September to command action by officials.
“The images and bystander video of Mr. Donald Neely being dragged by police conjure up painful memories of slave hunters dragging slaves with rope in 1800s America,” Crump said. “The world is watching, and it knows this behavior by police is not acceptable; the best path forward for the Galveston Police Department is transparency and accountability, which is the only way to rebuild trust.”
The lawyers believe the bodycam footage is an important step toward transparency and that it could reveal telling information about how their client Neely was spoken to and handled before he was paraded through Downtown Galveston by the two white officers.
The police department has up to 20 days to decide what to do with the request for the footage; it can either honor the request and release the body camera recordings, or it can fight the request by sending it to the Attorney General’s Office.
“If these officers are good people, of good character, then the Galveston Police Department should have no problem releasing the bodycam footage so we can see their character for ourselves,” Crump said. “We must remember that the government is the servant and not the master of the people.”
Crump and Clark are working together to represent Neely in civil matters, and Melissa Morris is Neely’s criminal defense attorney.