Texas Rangers Decline to Criminally Investigate Officers Who Paraded Black Man in Street Like Runaway Slave

Screenshot: Washington Post

No surprise here. If police are barely investigated, hardly charged, and scarcely convicted for killing black people—on video—why would they face any sort of consequence for parading a black man through the streets tied to a rope while on horseback?

And so it goes. The Texas Rangers announced on Friday that the actions of two officers in Galveston, Texas, who did just that, did not warrant a criminal investigation, according to the Washington Post.

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Nearly two weeks ago, a video of 43-year-old Donald Neely, who was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of trespassing, sparked national outrage when it showed two officers on horseback walking Neely through the streets handcuffed to a leash-like rope which one of the cops held while riding on a horse. Another officer flanked Neely’s other side, the stark imagery harkening back to a dark time in America’s history. There were immediate calls for the officers to be fired, or perhaps face some consequence, but the Rangers, whose investigative jurisdiction falls within the Texas Department of Public Safety, declined to bring any charges.

“The Rangers subsequently conferred with the Galveston Co. District Attorney’s Office, which determined that there was nothing that warranted a criminal investigation,” the Texas Ranger Division said in a statement. The division also determined that the officers “had not violated the law.” Human decency, sure. Racial stereotypes, mos def. But the law? Nope.

The Post reports that the Rangers were one of two agencies Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III “asked to review the contentious arrest amid a larger probe into the incident.” Hale apologized for the actions of his officers’— identified only as P. Brosch and A. Smith—and copsplained that they had likely, “reverted to their training,” reports the Post.

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Understandably, Neely’s family was livid after seeing him humiliated in this way. Making matters even more despicable, Neely has several mental health diagnoses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which he had been repeatedly hospitalized for, according to his family.

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“What they did was real inhumane,” Neely’s brother, Andy Neely, noted to KPRC. “They treated my brother as if he was a dog.”

Neely’s attorney, Melissa Morris says she wants to receive body camera footage to see how these actions came about. The Post also notes that Morris doesn’t believe that what the officers did was in compliance with departmental policy.

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Neely was released on bond and is “resting at the Houston Medical Center,” according to his attorney; the two officers involved have returned to work, according to the Post.

Morris says that she plans to take action, including a possible march Sept. 15 through the streets of Galveston, if the police department “doesn’t give us transparency”—i.e., the body camera footage to see how this whole fiasco came about.

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About the author

Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.