A white Texas police officer can be heard twice on a body camera video saying leading a homeless black man by a rope down city streets while he and his partner are on horseback will look “bad”.
Two Galveston police officers arrested 43-year-old Donald Neely on 3 August, accusing him of criminal trespass. Galveston is about 50 miles south-east of Houston.
Images shared online of the two white officers leading Neely using a rope tied to his handcuffs sparked public outrage, leading to a Texas Rangers investigation and a Galveston county sheriff’s office review.
Protesters last month demanded that the officers’ body camera footage be released. On Wednesday, officials in Galveston released two videos, one from each body camera worn by officers Patrick Brosch and Amanda Smith.
In the footage from Brosch, he can be heard asking Smith if she should go get their truck so they will not have to make Neely walk. Smith says their sergeant would not approve of the officers separating.
Brosch can then be heard saying: “This is gonna look really bad.”
Just before the officers started leading Neely away, Brosch can again he heard saying: “This is gonna look so bad.”
An attorney for Neely did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In the videos, the two officers can be heard asking Neely, who had prior arrests for criminal trespass, why he keeps sleeping in buildings. The officers seem mostly cordial as they lead Neely.
At one point, Neely, wearing a welding mask he had asked Brosch to place on his head, apparently has trouble seeing because of the mask. The mask was one of several personal belongings Neely had asked to bring with him.
“We’re walking. Let’s go. Stand next to me because I’m going to drag you if not. You have to stand next to me,” Smith tells Neely after Brosch takes off the welding mask.
As they continue, Brosch asks Smith if he wanted to go on a street with less traffic.
“Yeah, I want the less eyesight,” Smith says.
On the videos, cars can be seen driving by the two officers and Neely and people could be seen walking on the sidewalks. At one point, a group of people ask the officers for directions.
The two officers led Neely for several blocks until they reached a parking lot where their truck and horse trailer were located.
In Brosch’s video, Neely can be seen standing in the parking lot for more than 10 minutes until a third officer arrives and loads him into a vehicle.
Galveston’s police chief, Vernon Hale, who is black, said after the arrest the officers on horseback are trained to use such techniques in crowd control situations but the officers displayed “poor judgment in this instance”. He apologized and said the department has since changed its policy.
On its Facebook page on Wednesday, the Galveston police department said it had received the sheriff’s office report on the arrest. Hale will use the report to determine if any further action will be taken against the two officers.
SOURCE: The Associated Press