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No criminal investigation for officers who rode horseback while walking handcuffed black man through Galveston

2019-08-18

Donald Neely man is escorted by two Galveston police officers on horseback. (Obtained by New York Daily News)

Two white police officers in Texas “showed poor judgment” in leading an arrested African-American man through the streets of Galveston, tied by a rope as they rode horseback, but they will not face a criminal investigation.

The controversy arose last week after Galveston police officers, identified only as P. Brosch and A. Smith, arrested Donald Neely, 43, on Aug. 3 and marched him for six blocks, according to ABC affiliate KTRK-TV. He walked, tethered with handcuffs and a rope, as they rode beside him on horseback. On Friday an independent review determined that while the officers had caused Neely had not committed a crime.

Authorities had said they would look into conducting a criminal investigation after images of the arrest went viral, and Neely’s attorney and family members demanded that the officers’ body cam footage be released.

The spectacle of the way Neely’s arrest on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges was conducted sparked outrage.

“These horrific images…conjure up historical memories of when slave owners…dragged black slaves by rope around their necks back in the 1700s and the 1800s,” Neely’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, told ABC News. “This isn’t 1819, this is 2019, Galveston!”

Neely suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, Crump said, and had not been taking his medication.

The Texas Ranger Division, part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, announced last week along with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office that they would conduct a third-party investigation into the arrest. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is also conducting an independent investigation, ABC News said.

“At the request of the Galveston Police Department, the Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry into this matter, which has since been completed,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Craig Cummings wrote in a statement. “The Rangers subsequently conferred with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, which determined that there was nothing that warranted a criminal investigation.”

The attorney told ABC News that Neely’s family “doesn’t have a reaction to the Rangers’ decision and is awaiting the conclusion of the full investigation.”