A former college football player was slammed to the ground and choked until he said he was unconscious during an arrest by Henry County police officers in a shopping center parking lot, cellphone video of the attack shows.
Desmond Marrow, 30, a former University of Toledo cornerback, detailed the Dec. 2 arrest in a lengthy Facebook post Thursday night.
According to a statement from Marrow’s attorneys, Andrea Boyd and Chris Stewart, Marrow was involved in an alleged hate crime.
“He was called racial slurs by two white males while driving and had hot coffee thrown in his vehicle by these individuals,” the statement read. “He then followed the individuals and a discussion ensued.”
The attorneys said a witness called 911 and erroneously reported that Marrow had a weapon and insisted their client cooperated with officers’ demands once they were on the scene at the Target store on Jonesboro Road.
Henry County police said they are investigating Marrow’s arrest.
“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.”
Marrow was charged with making terroristic threats and obstruction, both felonies, and reckless driving and aggressive driving, both misdemeanors, according to the Henry District Attorney's Office. A magistrate judge later dropped the terrorist threats charge and the case was transferred to the DA's office, which must now decide if the case will be presented to a grand jury.
“Our office is aware of the December arrest of Desmond Marrow and we are investigating it,” Henry County District Attorney Darius Pattillo said in a statement Friday.
“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.”
Video of the arrest shows Marrow being slammed to the ground by officers who he says thought his cellphone, which was in his back pocket, was a gun. Marrow is heard repeatedly saying, “I’m not even fighting back.”
“During the arrest, the police knocked my teeth out, slammed me on my head and choked me out until I was unconscious,” Marrow said in the post. Before he says he fainted, Marrow told officers he couldn’t breathe.
“I was fully cooperating with the officers with zero resistance,” Marrow wrote. “I thought I was going to die.”
In the police incident report, the officer wrote that witnesses said Marrow “had made a threat to kill the victims.” The officer said Marrow was told he was under arrest and was asked to put his hands behind his back.
“He refused,” the officer wrote.
The officer also said Marrow “refused to spread his feet and he refused to comply with our verbal commands.”
Marrow said he suffered a shoulder strain and concussion. He also alleges officers spit on him.
“The Henry County Police Department takes any charges of excessive use of force very seriously and wants to assure the public that this event will be fully investigated,” Smith said.
In the incident report, the officer wrote that he later tried to take a photo of Marrow’s face but he objected. “There was no visible injury to his face or head,” the officer wrote.
The officer also wrote that he took Marrow to Piedmont Henry Hospital, where he was treated and released.
“We are working to determine why the (officers) resorted to this level of violence with a man who was already handcuffed and complying with orders,” Marrow’s attorneys said. “We are also investigating why the (officers) lied and included false information on their report.”
The DA added that the video is “graphic and violent, and we understand why people are disturbed by this. I can assure you that once the investigation is complete, we will respond appropriately. As we investigate this case, we are asking the community to remain calm and exercise patience as we continue to collect evidence and interview all parties.”
Marrow was with the NFL’s Houston Texans and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2012 offseason but was released in preseason.
He signed with the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos in February 2013 but was cut four months later, according to the team’s website. He was signed by the team again in January 2014 but was released in June of that year.
Through his lawyers Friday, Marrow thanked those who supported him at a “difficult time.”
The ACLU of Georgia issued a statement Friday calling on Henry County officials to “convene a public meeting to hear and address immediately the community’s concerns.”