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Murder trial begins for former MSP trooper in Detroit teen's death

Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
Wayne County Prosecutor's Office

Jury selection began today in the murder trial of a former Michigan State Police trooper.

Mark Bessner faces second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes in July 2017.

Bessner and his partner were chasing Grimes in their patrol car as the teen apparently tried to flee police on an ATV. Bessner deployed his taser from the moving vehicle, striking Grimes and causing him to flip and crash. He died soon after.

Bessner resigned from the force after Grimes’ death. State Police officials have condemned his actions, saying they violated department policy and were “criminal in nature.”

But Bessner apparently plans to mount a self-defense case. According to court filings, Bessner said he saw Grimes “reach for the vicinity of his waistband” as he drove his ATV.

Prosecutors intend to argue that Bessner had a history of overzealous taser use, and that tasering Grimes during a vehicle pursuit was a criminally reckless act intended to “punish” the teenager for fleeing police.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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