Galveston, Texas — The Galveston Police Department is apologizing for the way officers arrested a black man over the weekend, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV reported. The department said two officers arrested a 43-year-old man for criminal trespass in downtown Galveston.
The man was handcuffed and a rope was clipped to the handcuffs before he was led walking down the street by the two officers on horseback. Police say he was being taken to a Mounted Patrol Unit staging area.
A photo of the arrest was taken and shared on social media. It shows the man with his hands behind his back, walking between the horses and the officers, with one of the officers holding the blue rope.
"While this technique of using mounted horses to transport a person during an arrest is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not used correctly in this instance," the department said.
The officers involved were apparently familiar with the man and had been told that he'd been warned against trespassing at the location several times.
Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale, III said in a statement Monday that, "First and foremost, I must apologize to (the man arrested) for this unnecessary embarrassment. Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods."
"We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique."
There was no word on whether any disciplinary action is being taken against the officers.
"When I looked at the picture, I saw utter disrespect for another human being. The first thing that came to my mind was this is 2019 and not 1819," Houston NAACP president James Douglas told "."
Douglas said the image is disturbing because it harkens back to the dark days of the antebellum South when black people were forced to walk alongside mounted slave owners. During the Civil Rights Movement, mounted patrol units often evoked fear among peaceful protesters.
"If this individual had been white, this never would have happened," Douglas said.