Former police officer pleads guilty to battery nearly 3 years after choking incident

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

David Rose has accepted a deal barring him from law enforcement work

The former Henry County police officer accused of choking former NFL player Desmond Marrow nearly three years ago accepted a plea deal Monday prohibiting him from ever working in law enforcement again.

David Rose pleaded guilty to simple battery as part of his agreement with Henry prosecutors. His decision ends a legal standoff dating back to March 2019, when, at the last minute, Rose backed out of a deal with similar terms to one agreed upon Monday. His attorney, Lee Sexton, said last year that Rose would not admit guilt for something he didn’t do.

But the evidence against him was significant. Cellphone video showed Rose choking Marrow as he lay on the ground, handcuffed. Subsequent statements by Rose contradicted his official account, including an admission to his partner, Matthew Donaldson.

“I’m not going to write it down, but hell yeah I choked that (expletive deleted)," said Rose, captured on dashcam video.

The two officers were responding to a report of aggressive driving in the Target parking lot on Jonesboro Road in McDonough.

After turning down the plea deal last March, Rose was re-indicted on two counts of violating his oath of office, one count of making a false statement and one count of simple battery. He faced a possible prison sentence had he been found guilty in a trial.

“Through his revealing words and actions, David Rose tarnished the badge that represents all the honorable and brave men and women who serve in law enforcement,” Henry District Attorney Darius Pattillo said. “As a result of this plea, Rose will never work as a police officer again. I am satisfied that he has been held accountable for his actions against Desmond Marrow.”

Rose was also sentenced to 12 months probation.

Marrow said Monday the experience cost him his marriage and livelihood. He was initially charged, but later cleared, with felony obstruction of police.

Credit: Christian Boone

Credit: Christian Boone

“It was like this burden I was carrying around,” said the former defensive back. “I became more aggressive. I didn’t trust people. I was angry. I just wasn’t myself.”

But ultimately, the encounter changed him significantly, Marrow said.

“I’m stronger. I’m smarter,” he said. “I lost everything but I found myself.”

Marrow’s civil suit against Henry police has yet be resolved. His attorneys said Monday they hope the county will agree to settle. If not, Marrow lawyer Chris Stewart said he will introduce evidence of an alleged cover-up intended to shield the officers involved in the arrest from prosecution.

Rose was initially cleared after an internal investigation that wrapped up five days after Marrow’s arrest. In that report, shared only with 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.”

But when the arrest video surfaced in April 2018, Henry police reversed course, firing Rose. There was no mention of the investigation that cleared him, which was later uncovered by Marrow’s defense team.

“It was a big cover-up and it still needs to be dealt with,” said Atlanta lawyer Gerald Griggs, who also represents Marrow. “We have to stop that. There cannot be two separate justice systems where African -Americans can only receive justice if somebody recorded it.”

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