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Black Man Mounted Cops Led by Rope Sues for $1M

He says he was treated 'as though he were a slave'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2020 6:00 PM CDT
Black Man Police Led by Rope Sues for $1M
In this photo provided by Erin Toberman, Donald Neely is walked with handcuffs and a rope by two mounted police officers in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.   (Courtesy of Erin Toberman via AP)

A Black man who was led by a rope by two white officers on horseback in Galveston last year is suing the Texas city and its police department for $1 million, saying he suffered humiliation and fear during his arrest. A lawsuit filed last week in Galveston County district court on behalf of Donald Neely, 44, alleges the officers' conduct was "extreme and outrageous," both physically injuring Neely and causing him emotional distress, according to court documents. Photos of the August 2019 encounter showed Neely being led by the officers on a rope linked to handcuffs—reminiscent of pictures showing slaves in chains.

Neely, who was homeless at the time, was sleeping on a sidewalk when he was arrested for criminal trespass and led around the block to a mounted patrol staging area. In body-camera video, one officer could be heard twice saying that leading Neely by rope down city streets would look "bad." The lawsuit accuses the city and the department of negligence, stating that the officers should have known Neely would consider it offensive to be led on the rope "as though he was a slave,” the AP reports. In a statement at the time, Police Chief Vernon Hale called the tactic a "trained technique and best practice in some scenarios." However, he said he believed his officers “showed poor judgment," A Texas Rangers investigation determined the officers didn’t break the law. Neely’s criminal trespass charge was dismissed in court.

(More Texas stories.)

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