ShareThis Page
Ex-Michigan trooper gets prison for teen’s Taser crash death | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Ex-Michigan trooper gets prison for teen’s Taser crash death

Associated Press
1151296_web1_1151296-f8352103350c47bfa6c79f8667bc5532
AP
Former Michigan state Trooper Mark Bessner listens to Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Matthew Penney deliver his opening statement in Bessner’s trial in Detroit.

DETROIT — A former Michigan state trooper was sentenced to at least five years in prison Monday for causing the death of a Detroit teen who crashed an all-terrain vehicle after he was shot with a Taser.

Judge Margaret Van Houten said Mark Bessner, a lawyer and experienced officer, used poor judgment when he fired the immobilizing device from the passenger seat of a moving patrol car. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a second trial in April.

“You abused the public’s trust. … It is the few officers like you who have caused the distrust of police officers that plagues our community in Detroit, the state of Michigan and throughout the country,” the judge said.

The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison, but Bessner will be eligible for parole after five. He quit the state police after the August 2017 incident.

Bessner and a partner were patrolling a Detroit neighborhood when Damon Grimes, 15, drove an ATV near their car. The white troopers turned around and pursued the black teen. As they got closer, Bessner fired a Taser, which releases stainless steel barbs.

Grimes crashed into a parked pickup truck and died. Bessner said he believed the boy had a gun in his waistband, but Grimes didn’t have a weapon.

“A child is a terrible thing to lose,” a family member, Helen Stinson, told the judge. “To sit at the table and see his empty chair. To look at his empty bedroom has become more than we can bear.”

Bessner acknowledged the “tragedy” and turned to the family to apologize. He said he wished he could step into a “time machine” and change what happened.

“It is a no win-situation for police out there,” said Bessner, who added that it’s impossible to perform perfectly.

Two months before Grimes’ death, an arbitrator had cleared Bessner of misconduct in how he used his Taser while chasing a crime suspect in a different incident. State police wanted to suspend him for 10 days.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.