Former Michigan State Police Trooper was found guilty today of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Detroit teenager.
Damon Grimes crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died when he was shot with a Taser by former trooper Mark Bessner.
The former trooper fired the Taser from the passenger seat of a patrol car while he and his partner chased 15-year-old in August 2017.
Bessner, who quit the department after Grimes’ death, said he believed the teen was reaching for a gun in his waistband. Grimes, however, didn’t have a weapon.
State police officials condemned his conduct and agreed that criminal charges were appropriate.
A statement by Col. Joe Gasper, Director, Michigan State Police says in part, “we send our sincere condolences to the family, friends and supporters of Damon Grimes.”
The Michigan State Police also thanked the jury and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for their dedication to justice.
Bessner was charged with second-degree murder, but the jury opted for the lesser charge after deliberating for one day. He was immediately taken into custody to await his sentence on May 2.
The Grimes family “is somewhat satisfied,” said spokesman Oliver Gantt. “I know they had hoped for more. For the most part, I think they got a little bit of closure. I believe the family can rest with that.”
The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.
Two months before Grimes’ death, an arbitrator had cleared Bessner of misconduct in how he used his Taser while chasing a crime suspect. State police wanted to suspend him for 10 days. The man was handcuffed during a traffic stop but suddenly sprinted away and was able to clear fences.
It’s generally against state policy to use a stun gun on a handcuffed person who’s in custody. Bessner was also accused of misconduct and agreed to a brief suspension for firing a Taser at a handcuffed man in 2014, records show.