A Texas police chief has apologised after officers on horseback were spotted leading a black man through the streets by a rope.
Photographs of the arrest in Galveston quickly spread online as social media users compared it to the era of slavery.
“This is wrong!!!” wrote Erin Toberman, who was the first to share the image on Facebook. “A person should NEVER be roped up and pulled by a horse to go anywhere.”
Adrienne Bell, a Democrat congressional candidate for the district, called for an investigation, adding: “It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community.”
According to the statement, officers arrested the suspect, 43-year-old Donald Neely, for criminal trespass and clipped a line to his handcuffs to “escort” him back to their unit nearby.
The department claimed alternative transport was “not immediately available” and that the officers used “a trained technique” that was “considered best practice in certain scenarios such as during crowd control”.
However it accepted that the technique was incorrectly used in this case.
Police chief Vernon Hale said: “First and foremost I must apologise to Mr Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment.
“I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of 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.”
Leon Phillips, president for the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the Houston Chronicle that the photograph reminded him of racist images from the 1920s.
“All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that doesn’t make sense, period,” he said.
“If it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.”
James Douglas, president of the Houston branch of the civil rights organisation NAACP, agreed the photo showed a lack of respect, adding: “This is 2019 and not 1819.”
Galveston Police Department said in its statement on Sunday: “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”
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