The Texas Rangers have concluded an initial inquiry into the Galveston Police Department’s arrest of Donald Neely and determined nothing about the case warrants a criminal investigation into the actions of the two police officers involved.
The Rangers announced the end of the inquiry Friday morning. The agency conferred with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office before deciding to end the inquiry, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Craig Cummings.
“At the request of the Galveston Police Department, the Texas Rangers conducted an inquiry into this matter, which has since been completed,” Cummings said. “The Rangers subsequently conferred with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office, which determined that there was nothing that warranted a criminal investigation.”
Last week, city officials asked the Rangers to conduct a third-party investigation into Neely’s Aug. 3 arrest for criminal trespassing in downtown Galveston.
During his arrest, Neely was handcuffed and attached to a line held by two mounted police officers, and walked four blocks through city streets between two horses.
Social media images of Neely’s arrest sparked an international outcry against the city and the police department. Critics of the arrest accused the officers of racism, and compared the photos of Neely to historic images of slavery.
The Rangers did not describe what they did to investigate Neely’s arrest and referred questions about the investigation to the district attorney’s office.
On Aug. 10, the city confirmed investigators were looking into statements made by the police officers to Neely during his arrest. A witness told The Daily News that one of the officers told Neely “‘If you don’t keep walking, I’m going to drag you.’”
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office had not concluded its own investigation into Neely’s arrest, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.
While the Rangers were tasked with investigating whether the officers violated any criminal statutes, the sheriff’s office was asked to review whether the officers violated any of the police department’s own administrative procedures.
The sheriff’s office is still in the early stages of its investigation, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said. The administrative review might not be completed until some time in September, he said.
City officials anticipate they’ll receive a written report about the investigation of Neely’s arrest once the review is completed, they said.
In a statement, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale thanked the Rangers for reviewing the case.
“I truly appreciate the time, effort and prompt attention the Texas Rangers provided to reviewing the facts of this case,” Hale said. “I am pleased this portion of the investigation has concluded. As we await the conclusion of the independent administrative review, the department continues our ongoing efforts to ensure the best practices, training and resources are available for our law enforcement officers.”
On Aug. 5, Hale said the officers who arrested Neely would be counseled about their actions, but the city and the department have not announced any other disciplinary actions against the officers.
Hale has said the officers followed their training in the technique they used to arrest Neely, but used poor judgment in deciding to move him across downtown instead of waiting for a police car to pick him up.
The city has not yet released the body camera recordings of Neely’s arrest. The recording has been requested for release by The Daily News, other media outlets and Neely’s attorneys.
The city will not release the recordings at least until the administrative investigation is completed, Barnett said.
Neely’s supporters would continue demanding transparency and accountability, regardless of the Ranger Division’s finding, attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Neely’s family, said in a statement issued Friday evening.
“The only way to rebuild trust after this instance of bad policing is to be transparent and send a clear message that Mr. Neely was deserving of respect, just as any other American citizen,” Crump wrote.