GALVESTON, Texas — The city of Galveston is asking the Texas Attorney General to prevent the release of the officers’ body camera video in the controversial arrest of Donald Neely by Galveston mounted patrol officers.
However, the attorney representing Neely on that criminal trespassing charge believes the law allows for the footage to be released.
“They could release the body cams,” said Melissa Morris, Neely's criminal defense attorney, on Wednesday. “I’m not surprised that this has all been what I believe to be an effort to hide the transparency that we’re asking for.”
Morris has seen the body camera footage, but state law won’t let her discuss it.
A Galveston spokesperson reiterated Wednesday that state law also won’t let the city release the footage publicly because of the ongoing investigation.
However, there is an exception if that video release serves a law enforcement purpose, like deterring crime. While that city spokesperson believes Neely’s arrest does not meet the criteria, Morris disagrees.
“A law enforcement purpose would always be transparency and a relationship with the community to ensure transparency, to ensure trust,” said Morris. “And so, if they so chose, then they could release the body cam under that exception.”
During a town hall meeting shortly after Neely’s Aug. 3 arrest, Chief Vernon Hale of Galveston PD said he would review the department’s policy.
However, after requesting a copy of the mounted patrol policy, KHOU learned Tuesday there is no policy on the books.
A city spokeswoman said the policy was still being drafted because the mounted patrol was recently expanded. She said the Galveston mounted police officers involved in Neely’s controversial arrest learned that rope technique during 40 hours of training.
“Now that further inquiry is being made now there’s more excuses as to where this policy is or whether it existed or whether it was just being constructed, and so I think that everybody needs to be concerned about how things are being handled,” Morris said.
Galveston PD mounted patrol hasn’t been used since Aug. 3 and won’t be until standard operating procedure is in place, according to a directive from the chief.
KHOU requested an interview with Chief Hale on Wednesday but did not receive a reply.
Morris said Donald Neely is doing well and receiving his medicine in the hospital. She planned to visit him Wednesday night.
A spokesperson for Ben Crump, the attorney in Neely’s civil case, said Wednesday they’re still planning a march in Galveston on Sept. 15 calling for the body camera video to be made public.
The Texas Rangers announced Friday there will be no criminal investigation into Neely’s arrest.
The Galveston District Attorney’s Office said last week it is working with Neely’s defense attorneys on an agreement that he get mental health treatment rather than paying a fine or serving jail time for a criminal trespassing charge.
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