Apologies came from a Texas police chief for the actions of some of his officers after photos circulated widely on social media, showing two officers riding on horses while leading a handcuffed man down a street. The handcuffs were tied to a rope held by one of the officers or as a police statement described, “a line clipped to the handcuffs”).
Vernon L. Hale III, Chief of the Galveston police department said the officers “showed poor judgment,” but argued that they did not have any ill intentions. Neither of the officers involved in the incident has commented publicly.
According to a police statement released to the press, the two officers arrested Donald Neely for trespassing on Saturday afternoon at an address in downtown Galveston. The two officers, while on horseback, walked Mr. Neely eight blocks from this point to a “staging point” for their mounted police unit.
According to Hale, this practice is considered acceptable in certain situations but in this instance it was not used correctly. It’s unclear if the officers will face disciplinary actions.
When asked to clarify hos statement and provide situations in which the department views its mounted officers perp-walking detained individuals as “acceptable,” a Galveston police spokesperson referred back to their statement.
Hale stated, “first and foremost I must apologize to Mr Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment, my officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but 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.”
President of the NAACP chapter in Houston, James Douglas, said that the officers should face disciplinary actions. Douglas told reporters, “that is a total disrespect for people of color. It doesn’t matter if its policy or not, this [was in response to] a misdemeanor trespass and the man required a lot more respect than what was shown by the police officers. This is not 1819, this is 2019.”
According to reports, Leon Phillips, the president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, called for the two officers to be fired, saying, “if it was a white man, he wouldn’t have been treated that way, I guarantee there’s nothing in their rules that you can put a leash on a guy while you ride down the street on a horse.”
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep., Beto O’Rourke, tweeted about the incident, calling for accountability and justice.