The man whose arrest last year sparked international outrage because two mounted officers led him through downtown streets by a tether behind their horses, has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the city and police department.

Donald Neely is seeking $1 million in damages for mental anguish caused by his Aug. 3, 2019, arrest outside the Galveston Park Board of Trustees building, 601 23rd St.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the 405th Judicial District Court, claims the actions of two white officers who arrested Neely, who is Black, were offensive, provocative, extreme and outrageous and caused him “embarrassment, humiliation and fear.”

“Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit asserts. “He suffered from fear because one of the horses was acting dangerously, putting Neely in fear of being drug down the street by a run-away horse,” according to the lawsuit.

Houston attorney Julie Ketterman is representing Neely. She took over the case in March from prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who initially represented Neely and his family and organized a march for justice in Galveston to call for police reform.

Neely, who was homeless at the time of this arrest, was sleeping on a sidewalk under an awning at the rear of the building when two mounted police officers patrolling downtown as part of a newly formed mounted unit encountered him.

He had been accused of trespassing before, and officers patrolling downtown had been informed of a no-trespassing order against him, according to the city.

Officers arrested Neely for trespassing at the public building, which also houses a U.S. post office.

The officers, who were nearing the end of their shift, handcuffed Neely, attached a line to his hands and then walked him behind their horses about five blocks to a parking lot where they had left a horse trailer. Other officers arrived sometime later and transported Neely to the county jail in a motor vehicle.

The arrest occurred on a Saturday afternoon and was witnessed by residents and tourists visiting downtown.

Pictures of Neely’s arrest emerged on social media days later. The image of a Black man being led by two mounted white officers drew comparisons to images of slavery, and the pictures were featured on national news broadcasts and in international newspapers.

Details later emerged that revealed Neely was homeless and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

He had been arrested numerous times for trespassing at downtown properties, including once for damaging a bathroom inside the park board building.

Neely was not accused of causing any damage on Aug. 3.

Prosecutors dropped the trespassing charges against Neely in March. In court documents, county prosecutors noted that while probable cause to charge Neely existed, he had sought mental health treatment after his arrest and was making progress. They argued dismissal was in the interest of justice.

Shortly after the arrest gained notice, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said his officers used poor judgment by not waiting for a police car to pick up Neely.

A criminal review of Neely’s arrest conducted by the Texas Rangers resulted in no charges being filed against the officers. The city refused to release documents from a policy review of the arrest conducted by the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.

State law prohibits public disclosure of information about officer misconduct and discipline, the city said in a letter to the Texas Attorney General’s Office challenging an information request filed by The Daily News. The attorney general sided with the city.

The attorney general’s ruling notes the officers involved in Neely’s arrest were not disciplined by the department. The technique used to transport Neely was in accordance with the training officers had received, officials said.

At the time of Neely’s arrest, however, the department still was developing policies for mounted officers patrolling city streets. The department had previously used mounted officers only during large crowd events such as Mardi Gras.

The mounted downtown patrol was discontinued after Neely’s arrest.

City officials declined Friday to comment about the lawsuit. City attorneys hadn’t filed a response to the lawsuit as of Friday.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Recommended for you

(25) comments

David Hardee

The City will be the defendant and the public coffers will be the target.

Mr. Neely was a homeless, diagnosed mentally medicate individual, that friends, family, church, and any bureaucracy or social service had abandoned to roam the streets. He had had several encounters with police. One encounter resulted in a mounted officer to attached the hand cuffs on Neely to his horse with a rope and that image created outrage. Now Neely became the national victim of police brutality. Mr.Neely was not upset but those errant family, friends, church, appeared and became offended - were they offended into using Neely as an opportunity.

Never wanting to miss a good opportunity THE legal eagle Ben Crump arrive and took position to organize a demonstration/client. Here is excerpt from a Chicago news " The March on Galveston is about to get underway. The community is coming together in response to the arrest of Donald Neely."

Now the crescendo of brutality for Neely could join in the BLM mantra and the wheel of justice would begin to roll over the City of Galveston and its dastard police.

Crump declared representation but the Lawyer Kettering was also claiming representation. There was Millions of dollars at stake and that is like blood in the water.

There is another lawyer (probably court appointed and paid by public funds. ) to defend the rights of Neely.

The circular litigation is underway and the lawyers are at the trough of public fund, again.

Seems this story is being repeated frequently. I recall the words of the now multi millionaire Rodney King on May 1, 1992: "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

We need a reporter like Paul Harvey to get us "The Rest of The Story."

Gary Scoggin

Until I hear someone legitimately representing BLM endorse the lawsuit, I am assuming they had nothing to do with this and that this is just plain old fashioned ambulance chasing.

Wayne D Holt


David Hardee

BLM has no- legitimately representing BLM - Gary. Send me the address of the Legitimate organization.

Read this article by Rev. describing BLM.

Black Lives Matter is more than a slogan


"I’ve seen many instances where people have mentioned the idea of separating the Black Lives Matter “movement” from the “the organization” because of particular beliefs and values posted on a certain website."

"I will not name that website here because I want to be clear when I say there’s no singular “Black Lives Matter” umbrella organization. Are there organizations with BLM in their name operating in Texas? Yes, there are many; but not all have the same mission statements or values and shouldn’t be conflated because that’s an unfortunate distraction from the movement."

So says the Rev. Simpson.

Gary Scoggin

David... you’re the one that drug BLM into this. I agree with Rev. Simpson’s characterization of the movement.

johnferguson Staff
John Wayne Ferguson

Hi David,

There is no court-appointed lawyer representing Mr. Neely because the charges against him were dropped in March. He never had a court-appointed attorney for this trespassing case.

Kettering is the only attorney claiming to represent Neely in criminal and civil issues at this point. She's represented him since last September.

David Hardee

Thank you, John nice to have someone that will update the public. Your attention to GDN subscriber comments is appreciated.

It was obvious that Crump had intentions to represent Neely and the Lawyer of record Kettering may be on an unrevealed arrangement,

Interesting as whether a PLANTIFF can be required to be competent?

Thanks again.


Michael Jozwiak

If the city, i.e. the two officers, are found guilty of abuse, any monetary penalties should be paid from the police pension fund. Maybe this would make the police re-think their actions of abuse and their belief that the City will cover their actions no matter how outrageous. Make the offenders pay, and they will feel it more deeply to behave more civilly to the rest of us.

Jeff Patterson

So 2 mounted officers and their actions are called into question. So let’s condemn ALL Officers and penalize them by purging their pension fund? Your suggestion is ridiculous and insulting to the vast majority of officers who serve this community honorable. No one doing this job is getting rich and lately the constant press to demonize police officers is going to have harmful consequences when no one wants to serve anymore. Then what? A strong police force is an invaluable asset to the safety and security of the community. How about you show a little appreciation instead of condemning everyone for the actions of a few?

Wayne D Holt

[thumbup] Lest we forget the details of the arrest, Mr. Neely was allowed to wear a welder's mask he was accustomed to in order to affect a more humane arrest. Hint: don't try this with any other police department as you will need a helmet for sure. The officers were using the training methodology that was available to them at the time. Shortcomings in the methodology or incomplete training does NOT equal racial intimidation on the part of the officers in any objective review of the arrest.

Mr. Neely's contemporaneous account of the arrest said the officers were nice to him. It only took a cropped photo and a mountain of virtue signaling from both coasts to start the public libel of the officers.

This is race hustling and ambulance chasing par excellence. A feeding frenzy by black lawyers isn't one bit more appetizing than one by white lawyers.

I hope the black community disavows this charade. After the peaceful and positive BLM marches and the reasoned and reasonable Confederate statue protest in Galveston County, it looked like this corner of the country understood the kind of approach that will be the most productive of change in America. Now a transparent attempt to shake down the City and get as much mileage out of the present racial atmosphere as possible will just give those least inclined to racial justice yet more talking point. Way to go.

Jeff Patterson

On point 👍

Charles Douglas

Ms. Patterson " knocked" that one over the centerfield bleachers out of the stadium! Well said!!! Right On point!! [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

David Hardee

This story is racing across the country/world. I have a fixed google search that return to me an email on any item with "galveston." abnormal high return from Newspapers and outlets publishing the Neely article/story. One paper is called "The Hindu".has it as INTERNATIONAL news. The Hindu highlighted and emphasised this in their article


"A black man who was led by a rope by two white officers on horseback has " ,WHY? For the purpose of titillating and racial agitation in India that America is racist.

Let the GDN recognize they have a responsibility for the publics disposition on the sensitivity of racism and like every MEGAPHONE will be used as fodder for titillating the public.

The GDN article was Not EXACTLY fake but certainly does not tell the story in true perspective of the event being lawful and with some compassion for Neely.


Michael Moriarty

A person's "dignity" is a function of how that person conducts himself in daily life. For most people the issue of an arrest would be "undignified," regardless of how they were taken to be booked. This appears to be a case of a lawyer looking for a sympathetic payday! Had the police dragged him down the street or beaten him, there may be a case, but this looks like a nuisance suit to me, particularly with requested damages of only $1,000,000. Hell, my dignity is worth at least $10,000,000, but people are more likely to go to trial for $!0 million than $1 million!

Stuart Crouch

And the (racist) band plays on.

Carlos Ponce

2019 -

"Taranette Neely, Donald Neely’s sister, said 'it didn’t look good' but told KPRC that her brother said he was not upset about the incident and said the officers were 'nice.'

2020 -

“Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit asserts. “He suffered from fear because one of the horses was acting dangerously, putting Neely in fear of being drug down the street by a run-away horse,” according to the lawsuit.

Ted Gillis

If the lawsuit is determined in Mr. Neely’s favor, I hope his family allows him to use what funds he receives to purchase a house here in Galveston, and let’s him fill it with locally purchased furnishings. He should also be allowed to hire a home service aide to look after his daily needs. His family failed at that before. They allowed him to roam the streets of Galveston, homeless and the mercy of the good residents and businesses to care for him. Some offered assistance for his personal needs, others allowed him to take advantage of their business lobbies to get in out of the weather. More than once, a business employee suggested that he take a bath before the next time he returned. It was only after the Park Board receptionists finally had enough of this annoyance, that the horse escort occurred.

Let’s hope something good comes of this.

David Hardee

Nice rendition of the history of Neely. The families failure and the good samaritans along the way are identified properly. Evidently you were closer to the community Neely existed in then most who posted about him. Neely's story is shameful rendition of what has happened to the Social structure of our country.

With the advent of the government becoming a progressive liberal Big Tent and responsible for the Health, Education and Welfare of the population. The private charities were eliminated. And eventually even the families were inclined to deliver their responsibilities over to the government and all the bureaucracies and 501c pseudo charities. Religious organization closed their schools and orphanages as the CPS and public schools became the parents.

The Great Society benevolence displaced all the initiative of the family and even the individual to self responsibility.. The Village will raise the child said Clinton.

We have allowed the creep of big government to make more prevalent every year the story of Neely'(s).

Shame on us.

As Gillis said, "Let’s hope something good comes of this."

Gary Scoggin

Ted. I agree. Unfortunately any settlement will be about a third less after the ambulance chasers get their cut.

Carlos Ponce

Mounted Galveston police escort white men by tether. Everyone is okay with that.

Mounted Galveston police escort a black man by tether suddenly it's back to slavery![scared]

David Hardee


'On display as slaves once were': Black man suing for $1 million after arrest"

By the Crow River Media IS ANOTHER HEADLINE in racist agitating MEDIA.

Ted Gillis

Yes David, Unfortunately I think just about every business in Galveston with a public front door has had knowledge of, or had a personal history with Neely.

David Hardee

Ted, Neely needs all the blessings we can give. If your close enough to his guardians of record give them legal advice. If the law firm believes sincerely in his being a victim of abuse they should go pro bono or expenses only. If not the guardians could most likely get a settlement with a trust that protected the money with enough given out on a periodic payout schedule to get him housed and the other necessary sustaneous provided.

Be careful Ted because giving legal advice in the eyes of a lawyer can get you into their litigation trap.

We were a much more charitable society before the NANNY STATE took away that individual's belief WE should be the savior of OUR poor, afflicted and gone stray brothers and sisters.

Thanks for making the story more complete tho it brings a tear in every eye.


David Hardee

There still coming in - another news organization on horrible treatment of Neely;

A Black man who was led through Galveston, Texas, by police officers on horseback is suing the ...

By: - WISC-TV3

His arrest received national attention after photos showed two mounted officers from the Galveston Police Department leading Neely through the city by rope.

David Hardee

Still coming in from By Harmeet Kaur and Melissa Alonso, CNN Updated 1 min ago

A Black man who was led through Galveston, Texas, by police officers on horseback is suing the ...

Rockdale Newton Citizen 10/15/2020


Welcome to the discussion.

Real Names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.