Desmond Marrow, a former college football player at Toledo, shared video on Facebook this week of him being violently roughed up by three police officers during an arrest back in December, in Georgia. The video shows Marrow being handcuffed by two uniformed officers, after which one of the officers is shown lifting Marrow’s right leg in order to upend him onto the surface of the parking lot. A third officer joins the scene and one of the arresting officers grabs Morrow by the neck and appears to shift his weight onto Marrow’s throat. Marrow protests that he can’t breathe before going limp and appearing to pass out. Fair warning, the video is pretty upsetting:
The report states Marrow was driving on Jonesboro Road over I-75 when someone in another car threw a cup of coffee at his car. That’s when Marrow reportedly started aggressively chasing after the car to a McDonough shopping center.
An officer happened to witness Marrow driving aggressively and followed the car.
When the officer got there, Marrow and “several others” were in the parking lot apparently in the middle of an argument. The officer asked if anyone had thrown any punches, then asked for Marrow to stop using profanity. While discussing with the officer, a witness apparently said he overheard Marrow say he was “going to shoot them.”
Marrow was reportedly patted down by one of the officers, and was not found to be carrying any weapon, but officers apparently decided to place him under arrest for the threat described by the witness. Though Marrow doesn’t appear to be resisting in any sort of non-verbal way in the video, which picks up after the point when Marrow has already been handcuffed, 11Alive describes the police report as including that Marrow “refused to cooperate.” He was reportedly charged with “making terroristic threats, reckless driving and aggressive driving.”
Marrow’s account, accompanying the Facebook video, offers a different version of events:
I Was Falsely Arrested & taken into custody in #Atlanta #Georgia #HenryCounty by the Henry County Police . I Only Had My Cell Phone in my possession & they claimed to be scared for their lives . I had No type of weapon in my possession , I was arrested for having a Gun that turned out to be my Cell Phone . During the arrest the police knocked my teeth out, slammed me on my head and choked me out until I was unconscious.
Marrow, who was briefly on the preseason roster of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted signee in 2012, says police changed their tune when they learned he’d been an NFL player and that there was video of the event:
They threw me into isolation and labeled me a gang member because of my tattoos. I was fully cooperating with the officers with ZERO resistance. 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.
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, at least one officer in the video has now been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation of the use of force, while a parallel investigation by the Henry County district attorney’s office looks at the incident:
“Although at the time of arrest an initial use of force review was conducted by internal affairs, earlier this month police Chief Mark Amerman ordered an internal affairs investigation to be conducted,” Henry County police Capt. Joey Smith said Friday afternoon. “As of today, the officer involved is on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.”
“In addition to the criminal case, my office will conduct an investigation parallel to the Henry County Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation. ... We are looking at the full video of the incident captured by witnesses, as well as police dash cameras, witness statements, police reports and all other evidence. Once the investigation is complete, we will be able to release further details about the incident.”
Police brutality against black Americans was the issue at the center of protests during pregame national anthem ceremonies by NFL players, and, as such, the video drew a response from DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association:
Marrow and his attorneys allege that officers lied in their police report, and Marrow has now accused police of using the charges as leverage in order to scurry out from under the consequences of their actions. If nothing else, this video shows a terrified man being body slammed and choked by three police officers over an argument in a parking lot, and it’s awfully hard to imagine a sane and healthy society viewing it as anything other than a terrible failure by law enforcement.