ATLANTA (AP) - Police and prosecutors in Georgia say they’re reviewing the arrest of a former football player whose lawyers say officers used excessive force.
Video circulated online last week of the Dec. 2 arrest of Desmond Marrow in a shopping center parking lot in McDonough, just south of Atlanta. Marrow, 30, is a former college football player who tried to catch on with two NFL teams.
In the one-minute video clip, officers can be seen forcefully taking a handcuffed Marrow to the ground by sweeping his legs out from under him as he yells, “I’m not even fighting back.” When he’s on the ground, an officer puts his hand on Marrow’s throat for several seconds and Marrow says, “I can’t breathe,” while another officer tells him to settle down.
Chris Stewart, an attorney for Marrow, said it’s clear from the video that Marrow wasn’t resisting and the officers used excessive force. The officers should be fired and the charges against Marrow should be dropped, Stewart said.
Robbie Swinson, who witnessed Marrow’s arrest, said in a phone interview Monday that the video “speaks for itself, and it shows excessive force” because Marrow was already cuffed. But he said it only shows a tiny slice of a long encounter and that Marrow aggressively chased another vehicle down the road and in the parking lot, talked about shooting people and then scuffled with police as they tried to handcuff him.
Although a use of force review was done at the time of the arrest, Henry County police Chief Mark Amerman earlier in April ordered an internal affairs investigation, department spokesman Capt. Joey Smith said in an email Friday. One of the officers was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, he said.
“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.
Henry County District Attorney Darius Pattillo said in an emailed statement Friday that his office is conducting a parallel investigation to determine whether the use of force was justified. That is being done by a review panel that includes Pattillo, his chief investigator, another veteran prosecutor and a use of force expert.
“The portion of the video distributed is graphic and violent, and we understand why people are disturbed by this,” Pattillo said. “I can assure you that once the investigation is complete, we will respond appropriately.”
His office is also examining the charges against Marrow, including felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer, misdemeanor reckless driving and misdemeanor aggressive driving.
Marrow told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that he was driving along when two white men pulled up next to him and started yelling racial slurs and threw a cup of coffee at him. He stayed calm but drove fast to follow them and get their license plate number and followed them into the parking lot to talk to them, he said.
One of the men listed on the police report as a victim disputes that. Scott Davis told the AP by phone Monday that Marrow began aggressively riding his bumper, cursed at him and his friend, threw a rock at their car and yelled that he had a loaded gun and would shoot them.
At one point, Marrow pulled in front of them and tried to block them and appeared to be getting out of his truck, so Davis threw a can of Coke to slow him down so they could get away, Davis said. Marrow then followed them into the shopping center parking lot and chased them “driving like a madman” as Davis called 911, Davis said.
Swinson saw Marrow chasing a car along the road and then saw him continue to chase the car through the parking lot, he said. Worried that one of them would hit someone in the parking lot, Swinson said he tried to get between the two cars to stop them.
He blocked Marrow, who got out of the car complaining that the men in the other car had thrown some liquid at his car and hollering that he had a gun, Swinson said.
Police found no weapons when they searched Marrow and decided to arrest him after speaking to the alleged victims and witnesses who said they had seen Marrow aggressively chasing another vehicle and making threats, a police report says.
Marrow played football at the University of Toledo in Ohio but wasn’t drafted out of college. He signed a contract in 2012 with the Houston Texans but was cut during preseason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him up but he didn’t make the team.
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