A pair of Texas police officers pictured leading an African-American man down as city street by a rope attached to their horses won’t face a criminal investigation, state authorities announced Friday.
The Galveston Police Department apologized earlier this month after the officers, identified as P. Broschand A. Smith, rode on horsebackwhile leading a handcuffed Donald Neely, 43, by a rope after arresting him on criminal trespass charges August 3. Photos and video of the arrest flooded social media, sparking national outcry.
“The first thing that came to my mind was this is 2019 and not 1819,” said Houston NAACP president James Douglas.
The incident prompted the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety to agree to a third-party investigation into Neely’s arrest. The sheriff’s office is also conducting its own review.
“At the request of the Galveston Police Department, the Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry into this matter, which has since been completed,” Texas DPS spokesperson Lt. Craig Cummings said in statement Friday. “The Rangers subsequently conferred with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, which determined that there was nothing that warranted a criminal investigation.”
An attorney for the Neely family said Donald’s sister, Taranette Neely, had no reaction to the Rangers’ decision and is now “awaiting the conclusion of the full investigation.
The man’s relatives say Neely is homeless and suffers from a mental illness. Their attorney told Houston’s KPRC that family members said the appalling photo of Neely’s arrest is the first they’ve seen or heard of their loved one in at least three years.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized to Neely, 43, for the “unnecessary embarrassment” and said officers showed “poor judgment in this instance and could’ve waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest.”
The Texas man’s family also decried the mistreatment, and are now calling on police to release the body camera footage from the arrest.
“The way the officers treated him, it just ain’t right. … They dehumanized my brother on the streets,” Donald’s brother, Andy Neely said at a press conference Monday, according to ABC News. “Why would they do that after several encounters with him? It was just to humiliate him. No man, no women, black, brown, purple, should be embarrassed the way my brother was.”
Galveston police said they’ve since updated its policy to do away with the controversial technique.