"This is going to look so bad": Galveston PD releases body camera video of controversial arrest

The Galveston Police Department released the body camera video of a controversial arrest in which a man was arrested by two police officers on horseback and escorted through several blocks tied to a rope.

Police released the body camera video on October 2 after the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office concluded its investigation into the arrest of Donald Neely.

Neely was arrested for trespassing at the Park Board of Galveston on August 3, 2019 and the Galveston Police Department mounted patrol officers handcuffed him, tied a rope to his handcuffs, while an officer on horseback held the other end of that rope and walked Neely down Market Street to take him into custody.

The so-called staging area to which police led him by rope is about four blocks away.

WATCH HERE: Officer Brosch body camera footage from Aug. 3rd arrest

WATCH HERE: Officer Smith (Lohmann) body camera footage from Aug. 3rd arrest

The video goes on for 27 minutes.  In the video the officers can be heard contemplating whether they should walk Neely to jail before doing so. “You want to make him walk all the way back?” one officer asks.  The other officer answers by asking Neely, “You got shoes?”

Later in the video an officer tells Neely, “Stay next to me 'cause I’m going to drag you, if not. Stay next week”.”We’re working on our new policies for the mounted patrol now. The mounted patrol in the form it was being used was relatively new to us when all of this occurred.  We typically used our mounted patrol for ceremonial purposes.  So I believe when the new policy is released it remains to be seen what the chief will come up with,” explains Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell.  At one point in the body cam video the officer says “This is going to look so bad.  I’m glad you’re not embarrassed Mr. Neely”.We don’t know what the Sheriff’s Office concludes in its investigation. That information hasn’t been released.

“I’m glad we’ve got these investigations behind us.  Whatever the result is we stand behind whatever the chief comes up with.  I’m most happy about getting the videos released.  I’ve been the one saying all along I want these things released because there’s no amount of what I think or what you think that matters. Everybody needs to look at these and come to their own conclusions,” adds Maxwell.

The City of Galveston and the Galveston Police Department have received an administrative review conducted by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office of the arrest. The police department says the police chief will review the report and decide if any further action is “appropriate and consistent with the civil service rules under which the Department operates.”

“The City of Galveston promised to release the body camera videos worn by Officer Brosch and Officer Smith to the public immediately after we received the administrative review from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department,” wrote on Facebook with the release of the video.

The police department says the videos are released in their entirety but do not have audio during the first two minutes because of the configuration of the body camera equipment.

“Once an officer activates the camera, the previous two minutes are captured on video. The camera is not constantly recording and storing audio due to storage limitations,” the police department wrote.

City Manager Brian Maxwell said in a statement, “Galveston voters elected to have Civil Service rules for their public safety officers. Due to Civil Service rules, any discipline would be at the sole discretion of Chief Hale. The City supports the chief in any actions he deems to be appropriate; however, if the investigation identifies deficiencies in department policies or practices those will be addressed directly with the Chief.”

Police Chief Vernon Hale says he is studying the report and will use the findings to make decisions about next steps for the department.

“I appreciate the efforts of Sheriff Henry Trochesset and thank the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office for taking the time to perform a thorough, independent review of the arrest. I am studying the report now and will use its findings to make decisions in the near future about the next steps for the department,” Chief Hale said in a statement.