Discarded evidence in ATV death leads to federal hearing
A federal court hearing has been scheduled Friday in the wake of a Detroit News report that a Michigan State Police sergeant is being investigated for allegedly discarding evidence after a 15-year-old ATV driver died during an encounter with a state trooper.
Police say on Aug. 26 Damon Grimes was illegally driving his ATV in the street on Detroit’s east side and did not stop as ordered by a two-person state trooper unit. Trooper Mark Bessner, the passenger in the squad car, reportedly fired his Taser at Damon, who crashed into a flatbed and died of blunt-force head injuries.
Bessner, who was suspended for allegedly violating Michigan State Police policy by deploying his Taser from inside a moving vehicle, has resigned. Two other state cops have been suspended in connection with the case.
The News reported Tuesday that a state police sergeant was being investigated for throwing away one of the Taser wires used on Damon, according to three Detroit Police sources.
Four days after the encounter, Grimes family attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed a $50 million lawsuit against Bessner. Fieger said The News’ story prompted him Tuesday to file the “emergency motion requesting an immediate evidentiary hearing regarding the destruction of evidence.”
The motion hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday before U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain.
“The destruction of evidence ... (has) resulted and will result in extreme prejudice to my client,” the motion says.
Fieger also argues in the motion that state police are charging more than $5,000 to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request seeking unspecified material related to the case.
“They’re trying to stonewall us,” Fieger told The News.
State police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said the fees were in compliance with state FOIA laws. She declined further comment because of the ongoing lawsuit and investigations.
Fieger’s 14-page motion further alleges Detroit officials denied a FOIA request related to the case. The city’s Law Department replied in a Sept. 28 letter: “According to DPD personnel, the record that you seek may be maintained by the Michigan State Police. MSP is a separate legal entity.”
Bessner’s attorney Richard Convertino did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.