A US police chief has apologised after two white male officers mounted on horses led a black, handcuffed suspect by a rope through a Texas street.
Photos of the arrest were widely circulated on social media, with many commenting on the appearance of a black man being led by mounted officers through city streets.
Galveston police Chief Vernon Hale said that while his officers used a technique that is acceptable in some situations, such as with crowd control, they “showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest”.
Chief Hale said his department had “immediately changed the policy” to prevent the technique being used again.
The officers had linked the rope to handcuffs worn by 43-year-old trespassing suspect Donald Neely so they could lead him to a nearby mounted patrol staging area.
We have verified with law enforcement officials in Galveston, that the photograph taken in Galveston is real. It is hard…
Adrienne Bell, who took the photo and posted it to Facebook, said she had verified that it was genuine.
“It is hard to understand why these officers felt this young man required a leash, as he was handcuffed and walking between two mounted officers,” she wrote.
“It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People’s Houston president James Douglas said the image was demeaning.
“This is 2019 and not 1819,” he told the Dallas Chronicle.
“I am happy to know that Chief Vernon issued an apology and indicated that the act showed poor judgement, but it also shows poor training.”
Chief Hale told The Galveston County Daily News that he regularly talks to his officers about how their actions affect people’s perception of police.
“You have to be aware of the images we portray,” he said.
“We talk about it when we talk about use of force, when we talk about vehicle pursuits. Quite frankly, I never would have dreamed of it in the context of mounted officers.”