GALVESTON, TX — Officials in Galveston released bodycam footage showing the arrest of Donald Neely, the 43-year-old man arrested in August by two mounted officers and led through the city’s streets while handcuffed and tied to a rope.
Neely, whose lawyers said he suffered from mental health issues, was arrested on a criminal trespass charge Aug. 3. A photo that showed the arrest sparked outrage because of the racial imagery: a black man being led by two white officers on horseback.
Galveston’s police chief, Vernon L. Hale III, apologized to Neely and said while the way the officers conducted the arrest was a “trained technique,” he would be changing the policy to prevent its use in the future.
“It’s gonna look really bad,” Officer Patrick Brosch says, trailing off into a laugh, once the two officers decide to make Neely walk to the police trailer where the mounted unit was staging, according to Brosch’s bodycam video.
The Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry into the arrest but determined there would be no criminal investigation into the officers’ conduct.
“Why do you keep coming back over here Mr. Neely?” Brosch asks.
“They don’t want you here,” The second officer, Amanda Smith, says.
The video shows Neely being placed under arrest and handcuffed before the cuffs are clipped to a rope that one of the officers holds. Officer Brosch collects Neely’s belongings and repeats that “this is going to look so bad” once they start walking.
Neely tells officers he is not embarrassed, according to the video.
At one point, the female officer Smith, tells Neely to walk straight otherwise she will have to drag him, according to the video.
The videos released Wednesday include bodycam footage from both of the officers involved in the arrest.
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Neely’s lawyers had demanded the bodycam footage be released, saying making the video public would provide transparency into how Neely was spoken to prior to being led by the mounted officers.
The officers repeatedly tell Neely not to go back to the building where he was arrested, saying the property manager at the building had asked him not to come back there and that he had been arrested there multiple times in the past.
In a statement, Galveston Police said there is no audio for the first two minutes because of the configuration of the video equipment. Police said they have received the administrative review conducted by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
After reviewing the report, Chief Hale will decide if there is any further action to be taken.
“Galveston voters elected to have Civil Service rules for their public safety officers,” Brian Maxwell, the city manager, said in a statement. “Due to Civil Service rules, any discipline would be at the sole discretion of Chief Hale. The City supports the chief in any actions he deems to be appropriate; however, if the investigation identifies deficiencies in department policies or practices those will be addressed directly with the Chief.”
This report is being updated.