No criminal investigation will be launched into the actions of two white police officers in Texas who led a handcuffed black man by a rope through the city of Galveston, state officials said. The officers, identified as P. Brosch and A. Smith, have reportedly also returned to their jobs.
Brosch and Smith provoked outrage earlier this month after a photo of them riding horseback while leading 43-year-old Donald Neely down a street circulated on social media.
Neely had been arrested on a misdemeanor trespassing charge on Aug. 3 — but, according to the Galveston Police Department, a transportation unit had not been available at the time to transport Neely to a police station so the officers employed a “trained technique” of using mounted horses to escort the man.
In the face of public backlash, Chief Vernon Hale apologized for the officers’ behavior, saying that though the pair had used a technique that’s a “best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest.”
Hale added that his department had “immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”
The chief’s apology and promise to end the practice assuaged some critics ― but others have continued to call for the officers to be fired or face disciplinary action.
“What they did was real inhumane,” Neely’s brother, Andy Neely, told KPRC-TV. “They treated my brother as if he was a dog.”
Adrienne Bell, a Democratic candidate running for Congress in Texas’ 14th District, said on Facebook earlier this month that the incident had led to widespread “anger, disgust and questions from the community.”
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the two officers had returned to work days after Neely’s arrest. A state probe had also concluded that Brosch and Smith would not face a criminal investigation for their actions, the paper noted.
The Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which conducted an independent probe into the incident, said in a statement that “there was nothing” the officers did “that warranted a criminal investigation.”
Brosch and Smith “had not violated the law,” the division concluded.
A family lawyer said Neely’s sister, Taranette Neely, didn’t have a reaction to the Texas Ranger decision and was “awaiting the conclusion of the full investigation,” according to ABC News.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is also conducting its own probe into the incident, the station noted.