Galveston officers on horseback seen leading handcuffed man with rope

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston police are responding to uproar over a photo posted to Facebook showing a man being led by officers on horses, using a rope.

"You don't even do a dog like that," said Sherri Kelly, visiting the island from Spring. "I don't care. That's inhumane."

RELATED: Attorney demands bodycam of Galveston man's arrest on horseback

"Where were they walking him to and why did they rope him if he was handcuffed? I don't think it's right," Cynthia Orise of Galveston said.

Donald Neely, 43, was arrested by the Galveston Police Department on Saturday, August 3 and charged with criminal trespassing.

Police say Neely went into the Merrill Lynch building on the corner of 22nd and Mechanic Street and refused to leave.

Police say the officers led him around the corner of 21st and Market, where the mounted patrol unit was staging when the photo was taken.

Neely was also arrested at the same building three and a half weeks ago. According to court documents, on July 12, Neely entered the Galveston Park Board office on the second floor "without the consent" of a park board member. He was charged with criminal trespassing that day too.

"The optics on this are terrible," wrote D. Alexander on Facebook. "Looks like an 1840s slave patrol."

"No problem here. [Police] used what they have to make the arrest," said Jose Hernandez. "Don't do the crime if you don't want to be treated wrong."

Some commented online that it appeared the rope was tied to the suspect's hands. Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale, III, says the suspect was handcuffed and the rope was clipped to the handcuffs.

ABC13 has made several requests for an interview with the chief. Monday, he released this statement:

"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. 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."

The department identified the officers as P. Brosch and A. Smith. They were wearing body cameras, which were activated, according to police.

Neely's sister was upset when she saw the photo. She tells ABC13 he is mentally ill and homeless.

Photo provided by lawyer for Donald Neely's family.

Police say the officers do not face discipline.

Neely has been charged with criminal trespassing at least six times since January 2019, including an arrest on July 12 in Galveston.

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