Donald Neely, subject of controversial Galveston arrest, speaks out about his experience

Texas

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In this photo provided by Erin Toberman, Donald Neely, center, is walked with handcuffs and a rope by two mounted police officers in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. Galveston’s police chief has apologized for the way Neely was treated. (Courtesy of Erin Toberman via AP)

The man who was arrested by Galveston Mounted Patrol officers in a controversial video is speaking out to Fox 26. Donald Neely has been homeless for three years and has been arrested by those officers before, but on August 3, 2019, Neely says he couldn’t believe when the officers, who were on horseback, tied him to a rope and began walking him down the street.

Neely told Fox 26’s Damali Keith he has respect for authorities, but that day, he didn’t feel the respect was reciprocated. 

“It was kind of hot and sweaty. That didn’t make it no better,” says Neely. 

In the heat of summer, Neely was tied to a rope and walked down Market Street in Galveston as officers rode on horseback to take him to jail for trespassing.

“They paraded me down the strand with my hands handcuffed behind my back with a long rope,” he said.

“Stay next to me, ’cause I’m going to drag you if not,” you can hear one officer say in the video.

“I couldn’t believe I was walking down the street with two officers on a mounted horse and I’m in the middle with handcuffs on going to the patrol car,” Neely said.

A family advocate says Neely suffers mental illness, is homeless and won’t always agree to stay with loved ones, like his baby sister Taranette Neely.

“He’s been having it rough all his life. It’s just bad. He never had a chance,” says Taranette, who says she is devastated to see her brother treated with “no dignity, like a slave,” or an animal.

“Disgusting. Just straight out disrespectful to humans,” Taranette adds.

“There used to be an open-air slave market in Galveston. They would walk them down Market Street, the same street they walked him down to go to market to sell black men,” says family friend Erin Toberman.

“How many children literally saw a picture out of a history book come to life?” asks Neely’s attorney Julie Ketterman, who says they are planning to sue.

“Here’s a question: Would they have done that to me? No. Would they have done that to a business owner there? No. They would have waited that 10 minutes for transport,” says Ketterman.

“Well, I had to suck it up, because the police officer has more authority,” adds Neely.

Ketterman says she hopes the lawsuit will help get more respect for the mentally ill and a change in policy.

“This looks bad,” one of the officers said in the video. 

“He knew, he knew in his heart. He said it several times,” says Ketterman.   

“This is going to look so bad. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed Mr. Neely,” the officer says.

“But he (the officer) also felt he was in a position, if you listen to what he says, he was in a position where he couldn’t say no. So that needs to be addressed,” says Ketterman. 

“That should never happen again, getting paraded down the street by a horse to a squad car,” says Neely.       

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office has now finished it’s investigation into the actions of the Galveston Police Department. The police chief says he will review the report and decide if changes are necessary.

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