Photo of Black man being led by rope behind two cops on horseback with comment explanation

Viral Photo Showing Black Man Being Led By Rope Behind Mounted Police Sparks Outrage

Galveston, Texas police chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized Monday for a photo of two white cops on horseback leading a black man behind them via rope. The victim, identified as Donald Neely, had been arrested and handcuffed for suspected trespassing and a bystander took the photo of the two officers leading him down the street.

The image spread quickly online, with some people saying it evoked memories of U.S. slavery.

According to family members, Neely is mentally ill and homeless and is regularly arrested for “trespassing,” something homeless people are often accused of because they have nowhere else to go.

No explanation has been given for why the two police officers decided to lead Neely around by a rope rather than call a vehicle, as is standard, but an official apology was offered by Chief Hale.

“First and foremost, I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” he said in a statement posted on the department’s Facebook page. “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 arrest.”

We became aware Monday afternoon of a post circulating about a Saturday arrest involving two mounted patrol officers and...

Posted by Galveston Police Department on Monday, August 5, 2019

The two officers in question have been named as P. Brosch and A. Smith, but the Galveston Police Department has not yet said that they “did not have any malicious intent” and has not announced any disciplinary action. However, the department has changed its policy on leading suspects by rope “to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”

Considering the initial responses to the photo, this may not be enough for people to forgive the Galveston police.

Galveston Coalition for Justice President Leon Phillips has called for the two officers in the photo to be fired.

“If it was a white man, he wouldn’t have been treated that way,” he said.