- Two images showed a mentally ill homeless man named Donald Neely being walked by police handcuffed with a leash
- The Adrienne Bell for Congress campaign shared the two images at which point they went viral
- Galveston police apologized for the situation and said the technique was immediately suspended
Family of Donald Neely were shocked to see pictures of him on social media, handcuffed and being walked through the streets of Galveston by two officers on horses. To make matters worse, Neely’s family say he is homeless and mentally ill.
Two images appear to have initially been uploaded to Facebook on Monday by Shantee Mone Smith. It appears Smith did not know Neely, and later updated her post to read “Just found out his name is DONALD NEELY.”
It was not long before Neely’s sister-in-law, Christin Neely, saw the images. Christin shared Smith’s post and wrote, “This is my brother in law, being detained/escorted via leash through the streets of Galveston!”
The incident went viral after the Adrienne Bell for Congress campaign shared one of the images on Facebook. “We will be watching for the Galveston Police Department’s response to their investigation of this matter and the accountability of the officers involved,” Bell wrote. She went on to say, “Swift action is needed to ensure that no one is demeaned in this manner again, and arrest procedures are fair, just, and humane.”
Bell’s post was shared over 40,000 times since it was uploaded on Monday. The viral attention forced a response from the Galveston Police Department. Chief Vernon L. Hale, III said the technique was suspended following the public outrage. Hale said the technique is a “best practice in some scenarios” but the officers in the image showed “poor judgment.” Apparently a transportation unit was not readily available. Instead of waiting for a transportation unit, the two officers made the choice to walk Neely through the streets. Hale said the officers “did not have any malicious intent.”
Christin made another post going into more detail on Neely on Monday night. Neely explained he is mentally ill, and the family has tried to get him off the streets. According to Christin, Neely has eight children who have lived without a father due to his mental illness. The incident with GPD was anything but beneficial to Neely’s mental health, or the family finding any kind of solution.