HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia police officer involved in the arrest of former NFL prospect Desmond Marrow has been placed on administrative duty as investigators look into the use of force, part of which was captured on video by a bystander.
Video that Marrow posted to social media Thursday shows the latter part of the early December 2017 arrest. Marrow, 30, is handcuffed and being pushed toward a white pickup by two officers in Henry County, just south of Atlanta.
“I’m not even fighting back,” Marrow says repeatedly before and after he is slammed into the back of the truck. One officer reaches down and picks up Marrow’s right leg. Marrow falls hard to the ground with the officers on top of him.
Marrow becomes upset and jerks once while the officers search his pockets.
As an officer puts a hand on his neck, Marrow screams multiple times, “I can’t breathe!”
Meanwhile, a third officer arrives and puts his hand on Marrow’s shoulder.
“Settle down. Just relax,” one of the officers says.
Marrow appears to lose consciousness, and someone is heard saying, “This is unbelievable.” An officer asks Marrow whether he is “OK.”
The video ends as officers try to get Marrow to sit up.
‘It was scary,’ Marrow says
Marrow told CNN that he went through several emotions when watching the video. One was joy, he said, because he felt like people would now believe his version of the arrest.
Marrow said he was afraid he was going to be killed when the officer put his hand on his throat.
“I couldn’t figure out if I was dying or passing out. It was scary,” he said. Marrow said he lost consciousness twice during the incident. On social media, he said he suffered a concussion and also lost teeth.
Police said in a statement they are looking into the incident.
“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,” the department said.
On Monday, police chief Mark Amerman said in a press conference, “If we find mistakes, we will own them. We aren’t perfect.”
When asked by a reporter whether the police action seen on the video was standard procedure, Amerman replied, “We’re still looking at that. I have concerns.”
An internal investigation, the department’s second into the arrest, began earlier this month. The unidentified officer was placed on administrative duty Friday.
Marrow, who tried out for two NFL teams but never made a regular season roster, faces charges of aggressive driving and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. His case is pending.
The arrest “never should have happened. He was the victim of a hate crime but yet he became the victim of an incident of police brutality,” said Chris Stewart, one of Marrow’s attorneys.
Suspected road rage incident
According to a police report, officers suspected Marrow was involved in a road rage incident and one of the officers responding to the call recalled seeing him driving aggressively earlier.
Marrow said that he was following a car after two white men yelled a racial slur at him and he was splashed by hot coffee that was thrown against his car door.
He said he told police he was trying to follow the men so he could get their license plate and talk to the men.
But the report says one of the men claiming to be in the other car, told police that Marrow followed him closely, tried to hit his car with the pickup and threw a rock that dented a door on his vehicle.
Marrow said that he was handcuffed as police searched his car for 30 minutes, looking for a gun. He said he gave permission to conduct the search and cooperated with officers. According to the police report, no weapons were found.
When officers went to arrest Marrow, he refused to put his hands behind his back until he was told the officer was going to use a Taser, the report says.
Marrow didn’t follow officers’ commands when they initially tried to search him, the report says.
One of the arresting officers says Marrow attempted to kick the other cop, who was trying to get Marrow to spread his legs.
Marrow was taken to the ground because “he was struggling” with the officers, the report says. They allege he also attempted to head-butt and kick the officers.
Marrow denies making threat
The video doesn’t capture Marrow’s initial interactions with the police, or his interaction with the individuals he says called him racial slurs and threw coffee at him. Bystanders told police Marrow threatened to shoot the people in the other vehicle in that incident. Marrow denied making such a threat.
Marrow admits he used the F-word several times when he learned he was going to be arrested.
Andrea Boyd, another of Marrow’s attorneys, said the Henry County Police Department needs to make changes.
“These officers are bad officers. Henry County should want these officers off of the force immediately,” she said, adding that other officers should go through additional training.
Marrow, who spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans in advance of the 2012 season, said he is now a trainer but recently lost his gym at the same time he went through a divorce, which he connects to the fallout from the incident and felony charges against him.
His family members and supporters gathered for a rally Monday at a church in the Atlanta suburb of McDonough.