DETROIT (AP) — A former Michigan State Police trooper was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder in the death of a Detroit teenager who crashed an all-terrain vehicle after being shot with a stun gun.
Mark Bessner had no “legal justification” to fire his Taser from his moving patrol car while trying to stop 15-year-old Damon Grimes, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
“He created a very high risk of death,” Worthy said, explaining the murder charge. “He may not have meant to kill him.”
Damon was driving an ATV at 35 to 40 mph on a Detroit street when he crashed on Aug. 26. An autopsy revealed that remnants of a stun gun were in the boy’s hair.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with Bessner’s attorney. In August, lawyer Richard Convertino said Bessner made a split-second decision to use a Taser when Damon refused to stop. He resigned from the state police after the incident.
Besides murder, Bessner also is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Since the teen’s death, state police no longer conduct high-speed chases in Detroit unless they’re investigating a major crime.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said a Taser typically would be used only when an officer believes a suspect is resisting — and not from a moving patrol car. He acknowledged that he’s had to ease concerns in the community after Damon’s death, although the case involved the state police.
“These things cause a lot of public angst. … I am the face of policing in the city of Detroit,” Craig told reporters.
The teen’s family has filed a $50 million lawsuit.
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(Photo Credit: WDIV)