The Galveston Police Department has apologized after a photo showing a Galveston officer on horseback leading a handcuffed man by a rope went viral on Facebook. Donald Neely, 43, was arrested on Saturday, Aug. 3, and charged with criminal trespassing, ABC 13 reports.
Police said Neely went into the Merrill Lynch building on the corner of 22nd and Mechanic Street and refused to leave. Neely was also arrested inside the same building three and a half weeks ago, according to court records obtained by ABC13.
While leading Neely back to the transport vehicle, the officer tied a blue rope to handcuffs behind Neely’s back. Neely looks bewildered in the photo.
Although the incident was routine police procedure, the optics looked bad to social media users.
"The optics on this are terrible," wrote one Facebook user. "Looks like an 1840s slave patrol."
Another user wrote: "You don't even do a dog like that. I don't care. That's inhumane."
Neely's sister told ABC13 her brother is mentally ill and homeless. She was upset when she saw the viral photo.
Police Chief Vernon Hale, III released a statement apologizing for the incident.
"First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest."
Police say the officers do not face discipline.
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