From [HERE] A white Michigan State Police trooper who fired his Taser at a Black teen on an ATV, causing him to crash and die, has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Mark Bessner was charged with second degree murder in the 2017 death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, but -- given the option -- a jury convicted him Wednesday of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Bessner has said he believed Grimes was reaching for a gun in his waistband, but no gun was found.
According to State Police, troopers assigned to the MSP Metro South Post, Detroit Secure Cities Partnership attempted to stop Grimes for reckless driving on the 4-wheeler on Aug. 26, 2017. The troopers activated their emergency lights and siren, but Grimes refused to stop, police said, leading troopers in a pursuit eastbound on Rossini.
During the chase, Bessner deployed a Taser from the moving patrol car and tased the teen as the bike was moving at speeds of 35 mph. At Gratiot Ave., Grimes lost control of the ATV and crashed into the back of a pickup truck. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
While Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Penney said it defied "common sense" to use a Taser on a joy-rider, Bessner's attorney says he was forced to make a split-second decision when Grimes refused stop.
During his opening statement, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Matthew Penney told jurors Bessner "did cause the death of Damon Grimes" and that the ex-trooper's decision to deploy his Taser at the teen on Aug. 26, 2017, was not "reasonable."
"There was no justification for what he did," said Penney, adding that Grimes was not a threat to Bessner on his partner during the incident on Rossini Street near Gratiot. "The defendant didn't choose to shout at Grimes (to stop him). The defendant chose to incapacitate him."
Penney said some of the questions jurors need to consider include: "Why are you shooting? ... How risky is a traffic (violation) to the whole world?"
This was Bessner's second trial after the first jury was deadlocked. In a video of the earlier incident, which is expected to be shown to jurors, Bessner allegedly is heard talking about using a Taser on the driver, who eluded Bessner and his partner after they put their lights and sirens on.
"I was kinda of hoping we'd get close enough that we could Tase that guy once we stopped,'" Bessner allegedly is heard saying.
The first jury did not see the video of the Aug. 12 incident. Prosecutors discovered its existence after the first trial.
Bessner was suspended, then resigned from the police force following Grimes' death.
He was remanded to jail following Wednesday's proceedings where he will await sentencing set for May 2.