A Black man bound with rope who was led down a Texas street by police officers mounted on a horse last year is suing the city of Galveston for $1 million dollars.
Donald Neely, 43, who was arrested in August 2019 for criminal trespassing is suing the city for the officers’ “extreme and outrageous” conduct.
Video footage of the Aug. 3, 2019, incident shows Neely being led down the street with his hands bound behind his back, by two officers on horseback. Images and videos of Neely’s arrest were widely shared across social media and sparked outrage.
According to a petition filed in Galveston County’s district court on Wednesday, “Neely suffered from handcuff abrasions, suffered from the heat, and suffered from embarrassment, humiliation and fear as he was led by rope and mounted officers down the city street.”
The lawsuit also claims that the officers should have known that Neely would find “being led with a rope and by mounted officers down a city street as though he was a slave,” to be “offensive.”
“Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit asserts. “He suffered from fear because one of the horses was acting dangerously, putting Neely in fear of being drug down the street by a run-away horse,” according to the lawsuit.
Neely, who was homeless at the time of the arrest, was sleeping on a sidewalk near a public building that houses a postal office when officers on horseback who were patrolling the area encountered him. He was arrested for trespassing near the building and was led by the officers for about five blocks to a parking lot with a horse trailer. He was then transported to the jail in a vehicle.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III issued an apology after the incident, and the use of mounted officers in the downtown area has been discontinued. A review by the Texas Rangers of the arrests did not warrant an investigation.
At least one of the officers involved in the arrest seemed to be aware that the optics of the arrest were not great. “This is going to look so bad. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed, Mr. Neely,” one of the officers said in the video footage.
Trespassing charges against Neely were dropped in March. Neely is being represented by Julie Ketterman, a Houston attorney who took over the case from Benjamin Crump. A status conference is scheduled to take place on Jan. 7, 2021.