HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The President of the Galveston Municipal Police Association is speaking out about the controversial image of a black man being led by a rope by two mounted police officers.
“It is very easy to take a still shot and fill in your own narrative,” said Geoffrey Gainer.
He says he wants to give people context.
“It could not be further from some type of a racial prejudice,” Gainer added.
He says the way they escorted Neely is how the mounted patrols are trained to do.
“Had they not secured Mr. Neely and he would have wondered off into traffic and gotten hit,” he added. “We’d be in a wrongful death suit because there is a specific way that you transport someone by a mounted officer so that doesn’t happen.”
He adds the officers are not allowed to get off the horses and the first thing the officers did after Neely was arrested was request a patrol unit.
“Rather than staying here in a parking lot for a time frame that no one knows maybe [they thought] we need to take him over to where our unit is,” Gainer said.
Gainer is also coming out in defense of the officers Smith and Brosch.
"I cannot think of two better officers on the force that have bigger hearts that have done more for the community," he stated.
Gainer says he trained Officer Smith and has worked with Officer Brosch for four years. He says Brosch is known for this volunteer work with a soup kitchen and shelter for the homeless.
The Galveston Police Chief has said the department will no longer transport people like they did Mr. Neely.
"I fully support the Chief reviewing this [policy]," he added.
However, as for calls for the officers to be disciplined or fired, Gainer disagrees.
"How do you discipline for not breaking a rule?" he asked.
FOX 26 did reach out to the attorney and spokesperson for the Neely family multiple times for comment. We have not heard back yet.
The Texas Municipal Police Association has released a statement about the arrest in They are defending the officers, and no apology was made.
Read the full statement below:
Today, Geoff Gainer, President of the Galveston Municipal Police Association (GMPA) released the following statement:
"During a time when our country is roiled by recent tragic events, it is extremely disappointing to see the state and national media fanning the flames of discord in our community between our police officers and the people we are sworn to protect and serve by upholding the laws instituted by our elected officials.
Donald Neely was under arrest for criminal trespass. At the time of the arrest, our mounted officers called for a unit to transport him to the jail. Our officers were told no units were available, and they would need to wait for a unit to be released from the jail. Because they were unaware of how long they would be waiting, our officers determined the best action would be to escort Mr. Neely to the mounted unit.
The technique that our officers utilized to escort Mr. Neely is an accepted practice nationwide. It is race and gender neutral. It is a universal technique meant to protect the individual being escorted, as well as the public. It is so universal in its application that it is the only escort technique that our officers have been trained in.
In fact, there are no other written guidelines for the transport of a person in custody by mounted patrol.
Our officers were faced with a difficult choice, as they are every day they do their jobs. With an individual in custody and under arrest, with no motorized units available for assistance, they followed national best practice and department guidelines for safe transport.
Their job is to promote public safety and enforce our laws. They did this to the best of their ability, followed all training and protocols they had been provided, and maintained their professionalism throughout.
In short, they did their jobs for the people of Galveston. We believe the Chief said it best during his town hall meeting when he said this was a failure of training and policy. We support the Chief in his review of the policy and procedures and are confident he will make the necessary changes."
Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director of Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), added:
“Contrary to what some have said, these officers did not use poor judgment. They did exactly what they are trained to do.
The prisoner in this case, Mr. Neeley, publicly stated the officers were 'very nice,' treated him 'very well' and does not take exception to his treatment by the officers.
This case exemplifies the disconnect the media and general population have with law enforcement. There are no good optics when making an arrest or detaining a suspect. It is the very nature of the job we ask our law enforcement officers to do and very often there are no good options. Officers are expected to choose the least bad option and follow best practice and department guidelines, and these officers did exactly that.”