David Rose has acknowledged that turning down a plea deal puts him at risk for prison if he is indicted for felonies.
Photo: 2019 Cox Media Group
Photo: 2019 Cox Media Group

Ex-Henry cop accused of choking former NFL player faces new charges

Former Henry County police officer David Rose was aware of the risk when, at the last minute, he changed his mind and rejected a plea deal that carried a sentence of 12 months probation for the 2017 choking of former NFL player Desmond Marrow. 

Henry District Attorney Darius Pattillo warned Rose he could face “a host of charges” if he turned down the offer, and on Thursday he made good on that threat, securing a series of indictments that could land the ex-cop in prison. 

Rose now faces two counts of violating his oath of office, one count of making a false statement and one count of simple battery. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, said Henry Assistant District Attorney Megan L. Matteucci.

Rose only had to plead guilty to simple battery in the plea deal in exchange for no jail time, enrollment in an anger management class and the surrender of his Georgia Peace Officer and Standards Training certification. 

But minutes before a March hearing where he was supposed to enter his plea, Rose notified his attorney, Lee Sexton, that he couldn’t admit he was guilty of something he didn’t do. 

“He couldn’t come in and plead to something that would make him a criminal,” Sexton said. “He’s taking a risk of a felony conviction and possibly going to prison.”

RELATED: Prosecution to resume against ex-Henry cop

RELATED: Henry County cleared cop accused of choked ex-football player

The incident in question started with a report of aggressive driving in the Target parking lot on Jonesboro Road in McDonough. Rose and his partner Matthew Donaldson responded and a confrontation with Marrow ensued. Cellphone video showed Rose choking Marrow as he lay on the ground, handcuffed. Subsequent statements by Rose contradicted his official account, including this admission to Donaldson, captured on dashcam video: “I’m not going to write it down, but hell yeah I choked that (expletive deleted).”

But an initial investigation, completed by Henry’s internal affairs division five days after the incident, cleared Rose. In his report, shared only with Henry County commissioners, Internal Affairs Division Maj. Mike Ireland determined that Rose’s hand “was placed in the area of Mr. Marrow’s neck (and) does not appear to be intentional.” 

Marrow’s movements caused Rose’s hand to slip around the neck, the report stated. 

Then, in April 2018, the cellphone video depicting Marrow’s arrest hit social media, provoking widespread criticism. Henry police leadership was quick to respond. Rose was fired. Henry Police Chief Mark Ammerman said his department “does not tolerate this type of conduct from its officers.” 

There was no mention of that initial investigation that had cleared Rose. Marrow’s attorneys would later discover that Henry police officials had seen the cellphone video, and the dashcam footage in which Rose admits to choking Marrow, prior to the completion of that first investigation. 

Rose believes Ammerman “threw him under the bus,” said Sexton, adding that the police chief’s handling of Rose’s case will figure prominently in his defense. 

Marrow’s attorneys have pushed for Pattillo and state Attorney General Chris Carr to open a separate probe into the Henry police administration. But so far, no such investigation has taken place. 

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