AFRICANGLOBE – The two white police officers who led a handcuffed man by a rope from horseback will not face criminal charges over the incident, it has emerged.
Images of the August 3 arrest in Galveston, Texas of Donald Neely, a 43-year-old man who relatives say is mentally ill, triggered widespread outrage after they were published. Many of the online commentariat said it evoked images of slavery and racism in the US.
Neely, who reportedly had been sleeping on the streets, was arrested for alleged criminal trespass. When a police vehicle was allegedly not available, the arresting officers led him from horseback, having tied him up with a rope.
The Texas Ranger Division of the state’s Department of Public Safety conducted a review, one of two external inquiries, to determine whether the officers had committed any crimes, but ultimately determined that they had not.
“The Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry into this matter, which has since been completed,” the public safety agency said 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.”
Neely’s lawyer is still campaigning for the police department to release the body-cam footage of the arrest and subsequent incident.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized for the officers’ “poor judgment,” saying they should have simply waited, though he added that they were indeed following their training for such circumstances, opting for what other police advocates described as “the least bad option.”
Chief Hale vowed that his department would stop using rope escorts despite being “considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control,” according to a previous statement from the police department during the initial fallout from the incident.
Meanwhile, authorities are allegedly working out an agreement so that Neely can receive mental health treatment instead of a criminal conviction for the initial criminal trespass charge.