let the truth get in the way of a good story. With a few exceptions,
that seems to be the maxim governing the initial social media outcry and
resulting media coverage of the recent incident involving Galveston
mounted police officers and the arrest of a local homeless man.
we waded through the misinformation being spread, we learned that this
same method of arrest has been used on all ethnicities, including two
white males who were arrested on a West End beach by a black police
In fact, we learned that this method is the only method
taught to mounted police officers nationwide. It provides for the safety
of the horse, the officers, the public and the suspects themselves.
found out that the officers initially called for a patrol car to
transport the suspect, but being a busy weekend day on the island, one
wasn’t available. With temperatures soaring into the high 90s, the
officers decided that, rather than wait with the suspect in the hot sun,
it would be better to move to their staging location where there was
shade, cold water and air conditioning.
When reports came out that
officers forced the man to wear a hood, we then learned that he was
homeless and mentally ill, and that it made him feel comfortable to wear
a welding mask that he carried with him. As it turned out, one of the
officers had a prior rapport with the suspect and allowed him to wear
the helmet so that he would feel more at ease.
It later came to
light that when located for interview, Donald Neely himself described
the officers as very nice and stated that they treated him well.
faced with these facts, we are told, “but it looked bad.” My response
has been to ask, when has being arrested ever been a good look for
As a result of this controversy, these officers have been
subjected to threats from all over world, labeled as racists, white
supremacists and slandered by elected officials to include our own mayor
who was so appalled and embarrassed that he found himself unable to
attend the community meeting hosted by Chief Vernon Hale to discuss the
It’s past time to start letting facts guide our decisions
and cease kowtowing to outrage mobs. These police officers deserve an
apology from us.
Clinton Stevens is chairman of the Galveston Municipal Police Association’s political action committee.