Police in Galveston, Texas, are apologizing after a photo went viral online showing horse-mounted officers had “clipped” a “line” to a man’s handcuffs after he was arrested Saturday on a criminal trespassing charge.
Many people found the photo was an outrage for it reminded them of racist images from the 1920s—two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, which they said did not make sense and was a lack of respect.
Responding to the internet’s reactions, the Galveston Police issued a statement issued on Monday, Aug. 5, in which Chief Vernon Hale apologized to the 43-year-old Donald Neely, for what he believed that the officers P. Brosch and A. Smith, had acted poorly.
“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” he said. “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.”
Hale said the department has changed the policy to prevent this technique from being used again and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.
Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, worried about the negative impact the photo could have on the city’s tourist-heavy economy and questioned why the officers didn’t wait at the scene.
“Stay there with him instead of humiliating him,” he said. “And now you’ve humiliated the whole city of Galveston because everybody who sees it is going to have an opinion.”
Phillips said he hoped to see the officers disciplined.
Police said Neely was arrested for criminal trespassing at 306 22nd Street in Galveston. He had reportedly been warned against trespassing at that location several times.
The officers were leading him about eight blocks away, where the mounted patrol unit was staging.
Neely is free on bond.