Protesters demand charges ‘swiftly’ in teen’s ATV death
About 30 protesters Friday urged the Wayne County prosecutor to “swiftly” issue charges in the case of a teenage ATV rider who crashed after being chased and Tased by a Michigan State Police trooper.
People marched outside Frank Murphy Hall of Justice chanting “Justice Now,” urging Prosecutor Kym Worthy to bring criminal charges against the trooper, identified by a police source as Mark Bessner.
“We want to see a conviction,” said the Rev. David Bullock, who organized the demonstration with the Rev. W.J. Rideout. “We want to see the (trooper) behind bars.”
Friday’s protest is the most recent since Damon Grimes, 15, died Aug. 26.
Bullock and Rideout say they plan other protests, including one Sept. 18 outside Michigan State Police headquarters.
Bullock and Rideout said their concern is how many resources Detroit Police will dedicate to the investigation.
Detroit deputy police chief Elvin Barren said Friday the investigation is proceeding along in a “proper” manner.
Barren said his department “can’t be rushed” with its investigation but that he expects it should be wrapping up soon.
In a statement, Worthy said staff members with her office have met with Grimes’ family to explain “the procedure the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office (WCPO) follows in all police involved matters.”
“There (are) two separate and independent investigations in this case. One is being conducted by the Detroit Police Department, and (the) other is being conducted by the Michigan State Police. The law enforcement investigations must be completed before WCPO receives the warrant request in the case. Once it is received, we conduct a completely separate and independent investigation before making a charging decision.
“We do this because it is important for us to take the time to closely look at the facts and evidence, so that we can be right,” Worthy said. “This is the standard procedure followed in every police involved incident that comes to our Public Integrity Unit, and it will be followed in the case of Mr. Grimes.”
Michigan State Police spokeswoman Lt. Michael Shaw said Friday, “Our investigation is ongoing. Once completed, it will be forwarded to the prosecutors office.”
Police say Grimes was driving his ATV illegally on the road and refused a trooper’s order to stop.
Bessner allegedly deployed his Taser and Grimes hit a parked truck. The teen later died of blunt-force injury to the head, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. Grimes’ death has been ruled an accident.
Bessner has been suspended with pay since the incident. He has not been charged in Grimes’ death as state police and Detroit police conduct separate investigations.
A $50 million lawsuit has been filed in federal court over the incident.
According to records reviewed by The Detroit News, Bessner was among several state troopers who were sued in federal court and Wayne County Circuit Court for allegedly using excessive force. Both cases were later dismissed.
In addition to the lawsuits, Bessner has been lauded for exemplary police work, including his role in helping save a woman’s life who was suffering from a drug overdose.
Bessner received the state police Lifesaving Award for an incident July 13, 2016.