Cops who led black man by rope won't face criminal investigation

Outrage over photo showing Galveston officers

Two Texas police officers who led a handcuffed black man down a street by a rope while they were on horseback won’t face a criminal probe by the state’s law enforcement agency, officials said Friday. The Texas Rangers said an investigation found “nothing that warranted a criminal investigation.”

The Galveston officers, who were identified as P. Brosch and A. Smith, were seen riding horseback August 3 while leading 43-year-old Donald Neely by a rope clipped to his handcuffs. He had been arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge.

Neely was later released on bond, and the officers returned to work days after his arrest. 

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A photo of the arrest set off outrage and drew an apology from Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale, who said the officers caused Neely “unnecessary embarrassment.” Hale asked the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Ranger Division, which is part of the state’s Department of Public Safety, to conduct an investigation.

The Rangers said in a statement that it conferred with the Galveston County District Attorney’s office, “which determined that there was nothing that warranted a criminal investigation.” It also said the officers’ actions “had not violated the law.”

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is still conducting its own investigation. Representatives for the office could not be reached for comment. 

In his apology statement earlier this month, Hale said the horseback arrest was “a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios,” but he believed the officers “showed poor judgment in this instance.” 

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

Neely’s family has demanded that the police department release body cam footage from the two officers. 

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