Donald Neely was sleeping in the streets in a southeastern Texas city when two white mounted officers arrested him for criminal trespassing, handcuffed him to a rope, and gallivanted him through downtown streets while the officers rode horseback. Startling images were released of the incident, which suggested stark resemblance to a slave in chains. Neely, now 44, has sued the city of Galveston and its police department for $1 million, according to reports.
Neely, who at the time was homeless, alleges the officers' behavior in August 2019 was both "extreme and outrageous," causing physical injury and emotional distress to Neely, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing court documents.
In a body camera video, one officer can be heard saying that leading Neely by rope down the city streets would look "bad," as they led him to a mounted patrol staging area, the report said.
The suit points fingers at the city and department, accusing them of negligence, the report said. The suit said the officers should have known Neely would consider it offensive claiming "Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were."
Police Chief Vernon Hale of the Galveston police apologized after the incident and said that those officers “showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest," the AP reported. Hale said the department "immediately changed its policy" to no longer use the arrest tactic which he claimed was "a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios,” such as with crowd control.
An investigation was conducted by the Texas Rangers, who found the officers broke no law, reports said. The criminal trespassing charges were also dismissed in court. Neely is alleging malicious prosecution connected to the charge.
When reached by Inside Edition Digital, the City of Galveston would not comment. The Galveston Police Department did not return Inside Edition Digital's request for comment.