DETROIT (WWJ) – A former Michigan State Police trooper has been charged with murder in the death of a Detroit teenager who crashed am ATV after being shot with the officer’s stun gun.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy Wednesday announced she is charging Mark Bessner, who resigned from the MSP in September, with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the teen’s death.
According to State Police, on Aug. 26 of this year, troopers assigned to the MSP Metro South Post, Detroit Secure Cities Partnership attempted to stop Damon Grimes for recklessly driving his 4-wheel all-terrain vehicle. The troopers activated their emergency lights and siren, but Grimes refused to stop, police said, leading troopers in a pursuit.
At some point during the chase Bessner deployed a Taser, striking the teen. At Gratiot Ave. and Rossini, Grimes lost control of the ATV, driving off the roadway and onto the sidewalk before crashing into a parked pickup truck. The teen died of his injuries at a local hospital.
At a news conference, Worthy said Bessner was found to be at fault for the fatal crash.
“Trooper Bessner unnecessarily deployed his Taser without legal justification or excuse, as Mr. Grimes was traveling at least 35 to 40 miles per hour,” Worthy said. “Mr. Grimes was struck by the Taser’s prongs, causing him to crash.”
Worthy said the trooper “created a very high risk of death” when he fired the Taser.
Following the incident, Bessner’s attorney spoke out on his behalf, stating the trooper “was forced to make a split-second decision under circumstances.”
State police have since temporarily suspended patrols in Detroit’s 9th precinct, one of the most crime-ridden areas of the city, where the incident took place.
State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said Bessmer violated department policy when he tasored Grimes, telling reporters that while Bessmer is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the MSP supports the charging decision.
“I want to apologize, on behalf of all of the department, to the Grimes family. The conduct of Bessner isn’t something that we teach, it’s not anything that we condone,” Shaw said. “And while we know that this apology is not going to bring their son back, I think it’s important to kind of relay our condolences to them on the loss of their son.”
The Grimes’ mother, Monique Grimes said Wednesday that although she does not exactly accept the apology from Michigan State Police, she also understands that the action of one trooper does not represent the entire department.
“I don’t blame all of them for one bad apple,” she said. “It’s just a better decision that they need to take from something that I have to deal with, the pain that I have to go through every day. But I’m not made at nobody.”
A $50 million civil lawsuit by the Grimes family is pending against Bessner, accusing him of excessive force.