Former Michigan state trooper Mark Bessner has officially been charged with murder in the death of Black teen Damon Grimes.
The fatal encounter between Bessner and 15-year-old Grimes took place in late August 2017, when the ex officer says he and his parter attempted to pull Grimes over for a traffic violation while he was riding his ATV. According to the Detroit Free Press, Bessner claims the pair then began pursuing Grimes in their patrol car after he refused to stop. The chase ended with Bessner firing his taser at Grimes from his moving patrol carl, which caused the teen to crash into a parked vehicle.
Grimes was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital within 30 minutes of the crash.
In addition to a second-degree murder charge, Bessner also faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges during a press conference on Wednesday, calling the former officer’s actions “unnecessary” and without justification.
“Trooper Bessner unnecessarily deployed his Taser at Mr. Grimes without legal justification or excuse as Mr. Grimes was traveling at least 35 to 40 miles per hour,” Worthy said. “We are alleging that Trooper Bessner created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm, knowing that death or such harm was the likely result, by firing his Taser from his moving police vehicle at Damon Grimes who was also on a moving ATV.”
While the state police director issued an apology to the teen’s family, his mother Monique Grimes was rightfully reluctant to accept it. “I miss him every day,” she said at the press conference. “He was only 15. He had his life ahead of him.”
Former officer Bessner faces up to life in prison for the second degree murder charge, if convicted.