Henry County police on Thursday fired one of its officers who was seen on video choking an ex-college football player. At the same time, the Henry County District Attorney’s Office dropped the felony obstruction charge against Desmond Marrow.
“We promised to find the truth for Desmond Marrow, wherever it took us,” Henry County police Chief Mark Amerman said in a statement. “He and all people deserve the truth, and being open and transparent is important to us at the Henry County Police Department.”
Officer David Rose choked Marrow, a former University of Toledo cornerback, while he was in handcuffs Dec. 2. The assault occurred after officers responded to an alleged road-rage incident involving Marrow.
Marrow’s attorneys, Chris Stewart and Andrea Boyd, thanked Amerman for the results of the investigation and District Attorney Darius Pattillo for dropping Marrow’s felony charges.
“Henry County got it right,” Boyd said. “We thank and commend (Amerman) for doing what is right, going by the facts of the investigation and determining that officer Rose is unfit to serve on our police force.”
When Henry County police arrested Marrow in December, they charged him with obstruction of an officer, making terroristic threats, aggressive driving and reckless conduct.
The Henry County Magistrate Court dropped the terroristic threats charge Dec. 11. That leaves only the two misdemeanor charges.
“It’s a great day, but we’re not done whatsoever in Henry County,” Stewart said. “(The board of commissioners) need to finish what could be the blueprint for how civil rights cases should be handled by resolving (Marrow’s civil lawsuit) in its entirety.”
Video of the incident surfaced on Facebook last month and showed Marrow being forced to the ground in handcuffs and being choked by Rose.
At one point, Marrow is heard screaming “I’m not even fighting back” and saying “I can’t breathe” multiple times.
An internal investigation revealed that Rose was recorded by his in-car video camera system telling Marrow he was not going to include the assault in his report.
“We were shocked today to learn that he admitted on tape that he willingly choked Desmond and planned on hiding it in his police report,” Stewart said. “We weren’t aware of that.”
Rose was administratively charged with unnecessary force and conduct violations from the department and county, Amerman said.
“The Henry County Police Department upholds its mission to serve and protect and does not tolerate this type of conduct from its officers,” Amerman said. “If and when we find that this type of conduct is evident, the (department) will take appropriate action.”
Officer Matt Donaldson, who helped force Marrow to the ground, will not face charges as he acted within department policy, Amerman said, adding that cellphone video doesn’t show the level of resistance and the struggle officers had getting control of the situation while Marrow fought with them.
“The video also shows officers taking Mr. Marrow to the ground in an attempt to gain control of him,” Amerman said. “This is what police officers are trained to do when they cannot gain control of a suspect, and is in compliance with departmental policy.”
Shortly after the firing was reported, Pattillo announced that the felony charge was also dropped.
“It is my responsibility as district attorney to fully investigate all felony crimes that occur in Henry County based on facts, evidence and the law, and not be swayed by outside influences,” Pattillo said. “This case was investigated no differently than any other case we handle and was given the full resources of my staff, as are all felony crimes that occur in our jurisdiction.”
Marrow’s legal team is also pursuing a dismissal of his misdemeanor charges.
“We are transferring the misdemeanor charges to the Office of the Solicitor-General for review,” Pattillo said. “(But) we have reviewed the police reports, witness statements, 911 calls, audio and videos, as well as interviewed witnesses, and determined there is insufficient evidence to present any felony charges to a grand jury.”
A use-of-force and officer-involved death review panel, comprised of Pattillo, the chief assistant district attorney, the chief investigator and a use-of-force expert, is continuing its investigation as to whether the use of force was justified based on police policies and state law.
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