The Michigan state police officer who fired his taser from a moving patrol car at a 15-year-old boy driving an ATV, causing him to crash into another car and die, was sentenced to at least five years in prison today.
“You abused the public’s trust,” Michigan judge Margaret Van Houten told the cop during the sentencing.
“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 incident took place in August 2017 in Detroit after the teen, Damon Grimes, rode past a police car, sparking a pursuit.
Mark Bessner sitting in the passenger’s seat and his partner was driving when Bessner tasered Grimes. A surveillance video shows the cops did not have their emergency lights on. The Detroit Free Press reported a pair of ear buds in a pool of blood near the crash, suggesting he may have been listening to music.
During his trial, Bessner claimed he was in fear for his life because he thought the teen was reaching for a gun in his waistband – which generally is all a cop has to say to get away with murder.
But Bessner made no mention of any gun in the minutes after the incident, according to the Detroit Free Press who obtained body cam videos and compiled them into a single narrative, which is posted above.
He also did not frisk Grimes as cops do when they kill somebody who was armed.
According to CBS News:
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 Bessner for 10 days for firing his Taser twice at a handcuffed man who was running away in 2016. But the arbitrator said there was no “just cause” for discipline.
In 2014, Bessner fired his Taser at a suspect who was handcuffed. He agreed to a five-day suspension, records show, but four days were eventually dropped. It apparently was his first case of misconduct.
Bessner, who resigned from the force immediately after the incident, was retried after his first trial ended with a hung jury.
Bessner could serve up to 15 years but is eligible for parole in five years.