Prosecutors in Detroit are taking action against a Michigan State Police trooper after he allegedly used his department-issued Taser on a teenager who died during a chase over the summer.
According to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, her office is seeking charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter against now-former State Trooper Mark Bessner.
The crash occurred on August 26 and Bessner resigned less than a month later–on September 22. According to Lieutenant Michael Shaw, two other State Police employees were suspended in the aftermath of that crash.
Damon Grimes, 15, was killed in that crash after plowing his all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) into the back of a pickup truck while multiple Michigan State Police Troopers pursued him.
Officials with the Michigan State Police admit that at least one trooper broke protocol when he fired his Taser out of the window of his moving patrol car while in pursuit.
That Taser charge allegedly struck Grimes immediately before he lost control of his ATV and slammed into the truck which killed him. Police claim the teenager was initially being pursued by troopers for “reckless driving.”
According to witnesses on the scene, one of the troopers pulled in close to Grimes while the teenager was attempting to move his ATV onto the sidewalk and then said trooper fired his Taser–which may have caused Grimes to crash.
A separate civil lawsuit was temporarily paused on November 28 by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain so that Wayne County’s criminal investigation could be concluded.
The Grimes family attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, claims Michigan State Police destroyed evidence at the scene and have been trying to stonewall by charging ridiculous fees for information.
Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests have been somewhat frustrated by hefty processing fees in excess of $5,000 and then apparently slow-walked by 90-day processing time windows. A separate FOIA request by local news media–for dashcam video of the fatal crash–was slapped with a $2,400 processing fee. Fieger said:
There’s been a systematic obstruction of justice in the Michigan State Police agency and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office who defends them. They destroyed evidence in terms of the Taser wires and even to get the documents we have to bay over $5,000. This is what happens when men in blue commit crimes. They get covered up.
Now, Worthy’s office is also investigating those cover-up allegations.
[image via screengrab and video courtesy Local 4 Detroit]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher
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