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Fallout Continues Over Arrest Of Galveston Man Who Was Led By Rope

Donald Neely’s family wants body-cam footage to be released and the Texas Rangers will investigate the arrest.

On August 3, 2019, two Galveston Police officers led Donald Neely by rope after arresting him for alleged trespassing. The action was criticized and the Police Chief decided to do away with that technique.

Fallout continues over the controversial arrest, in which mounted police officers led a Galveston man by rope down the street. The family of suspect Donald Neely is seeking the release of police body-camera footage. Galveston officials have also asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the incident.

The arrest prompted Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale to say in a statement the officers used "poor judgment" while arresting Neely, 43, who is African American. Hale also announced he's ending the practice within the police department. Neely was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Civil rights Attorney Benjamin Crump is working with Donald Neely’s family, which has requested body cam footage from his controversial arrest in Galveston.

Neely's family is working with high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin's family in Florida and Michael Brown's family in Ferguson, Missouri. They've filed a public records request asking Galveston police to release body-cam footage of the arrest.

Crump said Monday if the police department refuses to release the video, he will organize what he's calling a "Great March on Galveston" in September to demand action.

The Galveston County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers will look into the incident, in response to a request for a third-party investigation from the City of Galveston.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough said he was shocked by the incident and he's now fielding calls from all over the world about the now-viral photo of mounted officers leading a black man through the street. Activist and writer Shaun King, who has been central to the Black Lives Matter movement, also criticized the Galveston Police Department for the way the arrest was conducted.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has weighed in on the issue. "It's not going to happen here because that's not the way we train," Acevedo said last Wednesday after the weekly City Council meeting. He added he had "a very strong suspicion that it will never happen again in the city of Galveston."

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has also called for an investigation by the Department of Justice and has criticized Chief Hale for failing to explain why Neely wasn't placed in a patrol car, where he would have been "protected from the heat, and spared the humiliation needlessly inflicted on him."

Police unions have been swift to defend the officers. Geoff Gainer, president of the Galveston Municipal Police Association, said they acted appropriately because they called for a transport vehicle and were told none were available. Gainer added the technique they used is what mounted officers are trained to do.

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