DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan State Police say they will temporarily suspend patrols in part of Detroit’s east side where a teenage ATV driver who died after being Tasered by a state trooper.
The decision was made after last month’s incident so as not to create animosity in Detroit’s 9th precinct, one of the most crime-ridden areas of the city. The troopers have been reassigned to freeway patrols for now.
“They’re still working in the city, we’re just not having them patrol the city streets of the 9th precinct at this time,” State Police Lt. Mike Shaw told WWJ’s Charlie Langton.
The trooper who used the stun gun against 15-year-old Damon Grimes was suspended, with pay, for violating department policy.
According to State Police, troopers assigned to the MSP Metro South Post, Detroit Secure Cities Partnership attempted to stop Grimes, the driver of an ATV 4-wheeler, for reckless driving. The troopers activated their emergency lights and siren, but Grimes refused to stop, police said, leading troopers in a pursuit eastbound on Rossini.
At some point during the chase, Trooper Mark Bessner deployed a Taser, striking the teen. At Gratiot Ave., Grimes lost control of the ATV, driving off the roadway onto the sidewalk before crashing into the back of a pickup truck. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Bessner is suspended while authorities investigate the incident. His attorney spoke out on his behalf, stating Bessner “was forced to make a split-second decision under circumstances.”
Detroit police say they’re finishing their investigation, while State Police are continuing their own probe.
Meantime, a $50 million civil lawsuit has been filed against Bessner. The lawsuit accuses the trooper of excessive force.
Shaw said state police have been helping patrol the 9th precinct since 2012. The area runs from 8 Mile Road to the north, I-94 to the south, Outer Drive to the west and Kelly Road to the east.
“We have a great working relationship with the officers of the 9th precinct and also with the community, but we also need to make sure when incidents like this occur that everything as a department that we’re doing is correct and up to speed, and is there some changes that we need to make,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better off to step back and take a look at what you’re doing. If there’s nothing other than this one incident involving this one trooper, then we’ll go back into the 9th precinct.”