A former NFL player was arrested after he said police mistook a phone for a gun. The officer has been fired.
A police officer in the Atlanta suburbs has been fired after an internal investigation found he used unnecessary force in the arrest of a black man for possessing a firearm — which in reality, the man said, was his cellphone.
Henry County police officer David Rose was administratively charged with maltreatment or unnecessary force during the Dec. 2 arrest of Desmond Marrow, a 30-year-old former NFL player, as well as conduct violations. Chief Mark Amerman said in a statement posted to Facebook Thursday that he agreed with the investigation’s findings and fired Rose.
“The Henry County Police Department upholds its mission to serve and protect and does not tolerate this type of conduct from its officers,” the statement said.
Henry County District Attorney Darius Pattillo also said in a statement Thursday that no felony charges would be brought against Marrow. Marrow had been arrested on charges of terroristic threats, felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, reckless driving and aggressive driving.
A magistrate judge already dismissed the terroristic-threats charges, and the misdemeanor charges will be turned over to a county solicitor general for review, Pattillo said.
Rose could not immediately be reached for comment.
Marrow on April 26 posted a video to Facebook showing what appeared to him to be three white Henry County police officers taking him to the ground and pinning him down as he cried and screamed, telling them that he was not resisting. He said officers slammed him to the ground and choked him until he passed out.
“During the arrest the police knocked my teeth out, slammed me on my head and choked me out until I was unconscious,” he wrote in the Facebook post.
It’s unclear in the video whether Marrow lost consciousness. He said he also suffered a shoulder strain and a concussion.
“This has affected me mentally and impacted my life in a way I can’t even humanly describe,” Marrow wrote. “This isn’t a cry for sympathy, I just need it to be known . . . My cry is for JUSTICE.”
In the Facebook post, Marrow asked social-media users to help give him a voice, writing, “PLEASE HELP ME GET MY VOICE HEARD!!!” Marrow’s past as a professional football player might help him do just that.
Marrow was listed on the preseason roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, according to NFL.com.
Amerman said in the statement that the department had “promised to find the truth for Desmond Marrow,” no matter what that truth was. The investigation found that Rose was recorded on his in-car video camera system saying he choked Marrow but that he was not going to include that information in his report, Amerson said.
The investigation found that another officer, Matt Donaldson, acted within departmental policy, he said.
“It is important to note what the brief cellphone video doesn’t show — which is the level of resistance by Mr. Marrow while officers were arresting him, and the struggle officers encountered while trying to get control of the situation while Mr. Marrow was fighting with those officers,” Amerson wrote.
“This is what police officers are trained to do when they cannot get control of a suspect,” he wrote.
WXIA reported that the arrest may have been in response to an altercation between Marrow and another driver. The station described a Dec. 2 police report, which stated that someone in another vehicle had tossed coffee at Marrow’s car and he chased the car into a shopping center outside Atlanta.
The report said that a police officer witnessed the incident and responded to the scene, where a witness said he overheard Marrow threatening to “shoot them,” according to the station.
It said that officers asked Marrow whether he had a gun and he said no, and that the officers could not find one in his possession.
Still, the station reported, officers arrested him on the allegation that he threatened harm.
It’s unclear when the video was filmed, but in it, a police officer can be heard warning Marrow that he has a stun gun.
“I’m not even doing nothing. I’m not even fighting back,” Marrow, who appeared to be handcuffed, shouted as two officers slammed him against a white pickup truck. One of the officers held Marrow’s arms behind his back and the other officer pulled his legs out from under him, swiftly taking him to the ground.
Marrow cried out as his body hit the concrete.
“Oh, my God,” he said, weeping. “I didn’t even do nothing.”
A bystander who appeared to be filming the scene said, “That’s unbelievable, man.”
As Marrow continued to struggle and scream at the officers, one of them pressed down on his throat. Marrow made choking sounds and told the officers in a panicked, high-pitched voice, “I can’t breathe.”
A third officer then knelt down and told him to “settle down.”
Following the incident, one of the police officers patted him on the chest, saying, “You okay?”
Marrow wrote on Facebook that he showed “ZERO resistance” during the arrest:
“I thought I was going to die. I was sure I was passing out or dying when Officer #D. Rose was choking me as my breath kept slipping away. Henry county police dept. was trying to keep me quiet, but once they found out I was a former #NFLplayer & there was a video of the incident did they then try to drop my charges. They were basically trying to get me to sell my soul in exchange for the video not being posted and they would drop all the felonies and clear my record. They said I was resisting arrest, being out of control, spitting and assaulting the Officers by head butting them. But GOD recorded it and I have PROOF! You know the truth take a lil longer to make it around lies travel faster.”
Marrow did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Washington Post on Thursday.
The case is still being reviewed by the district attorney’s office, Amerson wrote.
“The Henry County Police Department is confident that this is an isolated incident, and is not a reflection of the many dedicated officers who perform the duties of their office every day, often putting their lives on the line to keep our community safe,” he wrote. “Moving forward, we will continue to conduct necessary training to ensure that our officers uphold the high standards set by the Henry County Police Department in serving the public.”