trooper taser case

(Photo: Stephanie Davis/WWJ)

Former Michigan State Police Trooper Convicted Of Manslaughter In Teen's Taser Death

April 17, 2019 - 2:46 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - A former Michigan State Police trooper who fired his Taser at a Detroit teen on an ATV, causing him to crash and die, has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Mark Bessner was charged with second degree murder in the 2017 death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, but -- given the option -- a jury convicted him Wednesday of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Bessner has said he believed Grimes was reaching for a gun in his waistband, but no gun was found. 

This was Bessner's second trial after the first jury was deadlocked.

According to State Police, troopers assigned to the MSP Metro South Post, Detroit Secure Cities Partnership attempted to stop Grimes for reckless driving on the 4-wheeler on Aug. 26, 2017. The troopers activated their emergency lights and siren, but Grimes refused to stop, police said, leading troopers in a pursuit eastbound on Rossini.

Damon Grimes (Photo provided by family)
At some point during the chase, Bessner deployed a Taser from the moving patrol car, striking the teen. At Gratiot Ave., Grimes lost control of the ATV and crashed into the back of a pickup truck. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

While Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Penney said it defied "common sense" to use a Taser on a joy-rider, Bessner's attorney says he was forced to make a split-second decision when Grimes refused stop. 

Bessner was suspended, then resigned from the police force following Grimes' death. 

He was remanded to jail following Wednesday's proceedings where he will await sentencing set for May 2.