Black Texas Man Seen Tied To A Rope By Cops On Horses Files $1M Lawsuit
The lawsuit states his arrest was "extreme and outrageous."
October 12, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Update (October 12, 2020): Donald Neely has taken legal action against the city of Galveston, Texas, and its police department for the humiliation he said he suffered during an arrest last summer where he was tied to a rope by white officers on horses.
On Wednesday, the 44-year-old filed a $1 million suit alleging that Galveston police officers’ treatment was “extreme and outrageous,” and caused him physical and emotional distress, KHOU 11 reports. The lawsuit also alleges malicious prosecution in relation to the charge.
“Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the suit read.
The lawsuit also accused the city and the police of negligence, stating that officers should have been aware of the racist implication of walking Neely down the street tied to a rope alongside a horse.
According to CBS News, Neely, who was experiencing homelessness at the time, was resting on a sidewalk when he was detained by police for criminal trespass.
Following public backlash of the arrest, the police chief issued an apology to Neely, whose family said he suffers from bipolar disorder and announced a formal investigation into the incident. Neely‘s criminal trespass charge was later dismissed in court.
In late August 2019, the Texas Rangers’ investigation into the arrest found that the officers didn’t violate any department policies or break the law.
Galveston police chief Vernon Hale called the procedures used during the arrest a “trained technique and best practice in some scenarios.” Later, he acknowledged that his officers “showed poor judgment," and said the department was in the process of changing its policies, according to The Guardian.
The policy now requires patrol officers on horses who are carrying out an arrest should handcuff and search the arrestee, and then wait in place for an available unit unless otherwise instructed by a supervisor.
Original (August 19, 2019): Two Texas officers seen walking a man through Galveston with a rope will not be subjected to a criminal investigation.
The officers, identified as P. Brosch and A. Smith, will not be investigated because authorities found “nothing that warranted a criminal investigation," CBS News reported. Rangers also determined the controversial walk "had not violated the law."
Smith and Brosch arrested Donald Neely, 43, for criminal trespassing on August 3. Neely was later released on bond.
As Blavity previously reported, congressional candidate Adrienne Bell posted a picture of the walk on her Facebook page two days after the arrest.
The picture shows the officers riding horses and leading Neely through the city with a rope tied around his handcuffs.
The picture went viral and sparked enough outrage to prompt an apology from Police Chief Vernon Hale, who admitted Smith and Brosch “showed poor judgment in this instance."
Neely’s family revealed he suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression. They want law enforcement to release bodycam footage of the arrest to determine how Neely was treated during the interaction, according to ABC News.
"If these officers are good people, of good character, then the Galveston Police Department should have no problem releasing the police bodycam video," said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family. "[The video will show] the content of their character when they talked to and how they treated an unarmed black citizen who was suffering from mental illnesses."
Tara Neely, Donald’s younger sister, is “still in shock” from seeing the picture.
"He cared for us, he took on a role too young. He’s not a bad person, he’s very loving," she continued. "He’s just lost his way somewhere … We love our brother, we’re not out here for money. We just want justice for him."
Despite the rangers’ decision, the Galveston County Sheriff's Office will go forward with its probe.
"The department has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Texas Rangers Division and the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office to perform independent investigations of the August 3rd arrest of Mr. Neely," the office said in a statement.
"This review is now with those agencies and we have full confidence they will thoroughly and justly evaluate the incident. We anticipate the body camera footage will be released after the investigations are concluded. The Texas Occupations Code...prohibits the release of the videos before that time."