A Galveston, Texas, police department apologized after two white horseback officers led a black man on a rope through the streets of the city.
Photographs shared on Facebook Donald Neely, 43, flanked by two mounted police officers. Neely’s hands are bound behind his back, and an attached thick blue rope is held by one of the officers.
Galveston officers said it would end this practice after extensive criticism and outrage.
In a declaration, the police department said: “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”
Among those who criticized Galveston police were Neely’s sister-in-law, Christin Neely. Neely was “treated like an animal,” she said, adding that he was homeless and mentally ill, and often the family struggled to find him.
“Now imagine scrolling FB and seeing said loved one being escorted to jail on foot by two officers on horses, hands cuffed behind his back with a rope attached. In 2019?” Neely wrote on Facebook.
The police chief of Galveston, Vernon Hale, verified that the pictures were real.
He said: “First and foremost I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. 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.
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.”
Police said Neely was detained on suspicion of criminal offense and led to a mounted staging area for patrols. Hale said at the moment of the incident, the policemen were carrying body cameras but did not say if they were going to be disciplined.
Civil rights organizations said the image was a reminder of black people’s historic mistreatment.
Galveston Coalition for Justice chairman Leon Phillips said the pictures reminded him of the 1920s racist images.
He told the New York Times: “All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that doesn’t make sense. Period.”