Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
The Texas cops who went viral for leading a handcuffed black man through the streets by a rope will not face a criminal investigation.
The Galveston patrol officers, who’ve been identified as Patrick Brosch and Amanda Smith, were on horseback Aug. 3 when they arrested 43-year-old Donald Neely for criminal trespassing. Rather than waiting for a transport vehicle, the officers tied a rope to Neely’s handcuffs and led him to an area where other officers were stationed, about eight blocks away.
Photos of the arrest quickly went viral, and the police department apologized. Still, the state’s law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, said Friday that they hadn’t found anything “that warranted a criminal investigation.” The officers had not violated any law. The Galveston County Sheriff's Office is still conducting an administrative investigation, but the police officers are otherwise back at work.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale requested the state’s help in conducting a criminal inquiry, according to the Houston Chronicle. Neely’s attorney, Melissa Morris, told the paper she wasn’t surprised the state wouldn’t pursue criminal charges but that she hoped for some sort of action.
“I can understand them deciding there’s no criminal action with these officers,” Morris said. “I still think it’s poor judgment, even if it’s within the confines of policy.”
Neely is out of jail on bond, and his family said he’s been homeless and seeking treatment for mental illness over the past several years. Morris is hopeful the county will not impose jail time but rather help Neely seek treatment in light of the viral incident.
“Mr. Neely has dozens of criminal trespassing convictions just because he’s homeless and in poverty and mentally ill,” Morris said. “The fact that they’re trying to divert that and give him some help instead of convicting him is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Cover image from Adrienne Ball's Facebook.