Black man suing police for leading him on rope 'as though he was a slave'

A black man who was led on a rope by two white police officers on horseback is now suing the city and its police department for $1,000,000 (about £770,000).

Donald Neely, 44, who was homeless at the time, was sleeping on the pavement when he was arrested for trespassing. Officers from Galveston Police Department, in Texas, then handcuffed him and led him by rope to a police staging area eight blocks away.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr Neely in Galveston County district court has described his humiliation as it alleged the officers’ conduct was ‘extreme and dangerous’. It stated that the incident had physically injured Mr Neely and caused him emotional distress.

It accused the city and the department of negligence, and said the officers involved should have known Mr Neely would consider it offensive to be led on the rope ‘as though he was a slave’.

The lawsuit went on: ‘Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were.’

In body-camera video from the incident, one officer could be heard stating on two occasions that leading Mr Neely by a rope would look ‘bad’.

At the time, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said the men did not act maliciously, but noted that the police department was dropping the ‘trained technique’ from its policy.

In a statement, he said: ‘First and foremost I must apologise to Mr 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 the arrest.’

Christin Neely, Mr Neely’s sister-in-law, had slammed the police department online for treating him ‘like an animal paraded through the streets by two incompetent a**holes’.

Leon Phillips, President of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told The Houston Chronicle that the image of Mr Neely and the officers reminded him of racist images in the 1920s and beyond.

He said: ‘All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that doesn’t make sense, period. And I do understand this – if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.’

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