The Galveston, Texas, Police Department is under fire after a viral photo showed officers transporting a handcuffed suspect down a street by foot while tied to a rope used like a leash.
Officers arrested Brandon Neely on suspicion of criminal trespassing on Saturday, according to the Washington Post.
They had horses, and a rope, but no patrol car to take Neely away. The officers attached the blue rope onto his handcuffs, and Neely, 43, was led to a mounted officer staging area.
Bystander photos from the arrest went viral across social media, with many African Americans saying the photos were reminiscent of captured slaves in the 1800s. The outcry prompted an apology on Monday from Galveston Chief Vernon L. Hale III, who called the arrest an “unnecessary embarrassment” for Neely.
“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,” Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale III said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
“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, that doesn’t make sense, period,” Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the Houston Chronicle.
“And I do understand this—if it was a white man—I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened,” he added.
New York City public defender Rebecca J. Kavanagh also blasted the decision, tweeting, “Police have discretion. It wasn’t just an appalling decision to parade a human being through the streets in this way, rather than waiting for other transportation. But maybe they could have not made an arrest here in the first place.”
Police have discretion. It wasn't just an appalling decision to parade a human being through the streets in this way, rather than waiting for other transportation. But maybe they could have not made an arrest here in the first place.
— Rebecca J. Kavanagh (@DrRJKavanagh) August 6, 2019