From [HERE] More than two dozen hours of recordings and 600 pages of documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press have uncovered disturbing details of the senseless killing of 15-year-old Damon Grimes by Michigan State Trooper Mark Bessner last fall.
Lots of killings are senseless, including many of those committed by officers authorized to use deadly force. But this one was especially senseless. Trooper Bessner decided against all policy and reason to fire his Taser at Grimes while both he and Grimes -- riding an ATV -- were traveling at 35 mph down a residential street. To add to the insanity of his act, Bessner was the passenger in the cruiser. Having initiated the pursuit, Bessner decided to end it by tasing Grimes. The result was the complete, gruesome destruction of a human being.
Grimes had been driving about 35 mph on an ATV when Bessner — a passenger in a moving patrol car — fired his stun gun at the teen during a chase on Detroit’s east side.
Grimes slammed into the back of a parked truck and flew off his ATV. The impact of the crash ripped gashes into his forehead, both cheeks and upper lip and dislocated his skull. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival at St. John Hospital.
Bessner is now facing murder charges. There's a good chance Grimes never knew he was being pursued. Earbuds were photographed at the scene of the fatal crash. No one involved in the pursuit has been willing to go on record as to whether they appeared to be in use at the time of death. Additionally, obtained footage shows the cruiser's emergency lights weren't activated until 24 seconds after the fatal crash.
What the Free Press has uncovered with this mountain of public records is staggering. Officers arriving at the scene expressed their disgust at Bessner's actions. One officer in particular registered her disbelief at what she was witnessing.
“His pulse is weakening because he was on that fuckin' thing, and you chased his ass,” Detroit Police officer Kimberly Buckner muttered to herself as she stepped out of her vehicle, her body camera recording every step and word.
As she walked toward Grimes, an unidentified Detroit police officer reached out his hand to cover the lens of Buckner's body camera quietly saying: "They fuckin' tased his ass while he was cruisin'."
Buckner showed more compassion than other officers, though. The unidentified officer she spoke with later stated police escorts for ambulances were reserved for injured officers not "bad-ass 15 [year olds]" who ran from the cops. The officer went on to state he had "no sympathy" for the dead teenager. Another unidentified officer is captured saying, "Don't run from the State Police. You'll get fucked up."
Unbelievably, Detroit PD officials had no idea this officer -- still unidentified -- had criticized the cooling corpse of a teen shot by an officer with a Taser while riding an ATV at 35 mph. Only at the prompting of the Free Press was an investigation instigated. The officer has been pulled from patrol duty while the investigation is underway.
The Michigan State Police have a lot to answer for, and reps aren't talking. A pending lawsuit is only part of the reason for its silence. The other part is likely due to its refusal to deal with a problem trooper until he was charged with murder.
Bessner has a history of using excessive force and has been reprimanded before for using his Taser inappropriately, including using the device on handcuffed suspects. The investigation into Bessner's conduct shows that over a four-year span ending in 2017, he had 40 use of force incidents, 17 pursuits and five car accidents.
If the Michigan State Police could be bothered to police themselves, this may have been prevented. Bessner was -- at best -- a lawsuit waiting to happen. This isn't normal behavior, no matter how his lawyer spins it. It appears Bessner is going to lean hard on the Supreme Court's Graham decision, if his lawyer's statements are any indication.
Bessner's attorney, Richard Convertino, agreed to an interview, but then didn't respond to requests to schedule it.
Convertino previously called Grimes' death tragic, noting the teen drove the ATV “recklessly and dangerously” and “actively resisted and evaded arrest.”
“During the pursuit, Trooper Bessner was forced to make a split-second decision under circumstances on the scene and at the moment which was tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving,” Convertino told the Free Press in the email, shortly after the crash.
If the wording in that last paragraph seems familiar, it's because it directly quotes a Supreme Court justice.
The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments - in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving - about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.
That statement in defense of Bessner's reckless actions is a bit too much on the nose. There was no need for this to be a 'tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving" situation. A teen was riding an ATV and the cops were in cruisers. If the teen posed a risk to others, the solution was not to fire a Taser from a moving vehicle at an unprotected body traveling at 35 mph. That's just a good way to seriously injure someone. In this case, the injuries were fatal and the trooper whose best call under pressure was to commit an act almost every cop would find unreasonable is now behind bars awaiting trial. I'll bet he wishes he'd responded a bit more reasonably.
The State Police gave him every chance to show them what kind of officer he could be. And in the end, he showed them he could be even worse than he was in the four years leading up to his murder rap.