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$50 Million Lawsuit Filed in "Cowboy" Tasing that Kills Detroit Teen

by David Reutter

A $50 million lawsuit was filed against a Michigan State Trooper who Tasered a Detroit teen on an ATV before the teen crashed and died. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 15-year-old Damon Grimes' family by attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

According to Trooper Mark Bessner's attorney, "on August 26th Troopers attempted to stop Mr. Grimes who recklessly and dangerously drove on ATV as he actively resisted and evaded arrest," attorney Richard Covertino wrote in an email statement to the Detroit Free Press. "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."

Fieger, however, called the incident "a drive-by shooting of a child on an ATV." At a news conference flanked by Grimes' parents, he said, "under no circumstances should any police officer ever shoot like a cowboy out of his vehicle, out of the window."

Michigan State Police policy prohibits deploying Tasers from a moving vehicle. Yet, Bessner's report reflects he hit Grimes with a 50,000 volt charge while trying to direct his ATV off the road. The subsequent seizure left him unable to safely control his ATV, and Grimes crashed into the back of a truck. It was not known if he died immediately from the electrical surge or from the crash.

This is not the first time Bessner has been sued for the use of excessive force. Since 2013, Bessner, 43, has forced two different civil lawsuits involving Taser use. The first was filed in 2013 and was settled in 2016. It alleged Bessner "reportedly struck and "gratuitously kneed" an unarmed plaintiff, who was never charged. In a 2015 suit, Bessner was charged with Tasing the plaintiff on "multiple and continuous occasions with the specific intend of inflicting pain," including after the plaintiff was in handcuffs.

Fieger called Bessner's actions regarding Grimes as "Absolutely mind-boggling stupid." Grimes' sister, Dezanigue Grimes said her brother was "an awesome kid, a gentleman, a sweetheart, a lovely young man." She said, "He was getting good grades, he wasn't out here doing wrong--but what teenagers have been doing lately--riding those two wheelers or  four wheelers. It's not fair, he's only 15 and now his life is gone over a bike."

Sources: Detroit Free Press; thefreethoughtproject.com

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