Photos of Texas officers on horses leading handcuffed black man on rope sparks outrage

Access to the comments Comments
By Elisha Fieldstadt  with NBC News U.S. News
Photos of Texas officers on horses leading handcuffed black man on rope sparks outrage

A Texas police department altered a policy Monday after pictures surfaced showing white officers on horses leading a handcuffed black man on a rope.

Adrienne Bell, who is running for U.S. Congress, tweeted the pictures showing the man, flanked by two mounted Galveston police officers. One of the officers is holding a rope, which is attached to handcuffs, which are clasped to the man's wrists behind his back.

"It is hard to understand why these officers felt this young man required a leash, as he was handcuffed and walking between two mounted officers. It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community," Bell said in a statement.

According to the Galveston Police Department, the officers, identified as P. Brosch and A. Smith, arrested Donald Neely, 43, for criminal trespass on Saturday.

"A transportation unit was not immediately available at the time of the arrest," said a statement from the department. So Neely was "was handcuffed and a line was clipped to the handcuffs," and the officer clutched the other end of the line, leading Neely.

The officers were "familiar" with Neely, and he had been warned about trespassing at the location where he was arrested from, the statement said. He was led on the rope about two blocks to "where the Mounted Patrol Unit was staging from."

The method of handcuffing someone and escorting them between two mounted officers is usually used in volatile situations, like crowd control.

"The practice was not used correctly in this instance," the police statement said.

"I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest," said Galveston Police Department Chief Vernon L. Hale. "I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment."

"My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest," Hale said. "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."

Bell said she appreciated Hale's prompt response.

"I applaud the Chief's swift action in the discontinuance of the transport technique used in the arrest of Mr. Neely," she said.

But "questions about transparency, community policing in the community, and accountability still remain. There are also concerns about arrest procedures for persons who are known by the police department, as having mental issues," Bell said.

The candidate said she would soon invite law enforcement leaders to a town hall meeting to that they could face the concerns of community members.