State fights Fieger bid for evidence in ATV death
State attorneys argued Thursday in a federal court motion they should not be compelled to disclose evidence related to the fatal incident in which a state trooper used a stun gun on a 15-year-old ATV driver.
Releasing evidence in the case could hurt a potential criminal prosecution of Michigan State Police troopers involved in the incident, state attorneys said.
Damon Grimes died Aug. 26 after an encounter with a two-person Michigan State Police unit. State police officials said Grimes did not obey an order to stop driving his ATV illegally in the street, and that Trooper Mark Bessner used his Taser on him.
Grimes reportedly crashed into a parked flatbed and died from blunt-force head trauma.
Four days later, Grimes family attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed a $50 million suit against Bessner.
State police suspended Bessner because he allegedly deployed his stun gun from inside a moving vehicle. He later resigned. Two other state troopers have been suspended in connection with the incident.
On Tuesday, in response to a Detroit News story detailing an investigation into a state police sergeant who reportedly discarded one of the Taser wires used in the incident, Fieger filed an emergency motion seeking to compel state police to preserve evidence.
That isn’t necessary, state police attorneys responded Thursday .
“Given the multiple criminal investigations that are actively proceeding into the matter, MSP has the same interest as Plaintiff in ensuring that all evidence is collected and preserved, if not greater,” assistant state attorneys general Joseph T. Froehlich, Mark E. Donnelly and John F. Fedynsky argued in the 15-page document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
“Indeed, regardless of this civil suit, MSP is taking appropriate and effective measures to collect and preserve the evidence regarding this incident, and the intervention of this Court is not necessary,” the state attorneys wrote.
“Disclosure of any information regarding the evidence collected in the investigation of the death of Damon Grimes would not only seriously impede the ongoing criminal investigation, but would also irreparably damage the potential criminal prosecution,” state attorneys wrote.
Fieger said he filed an emergency motion to preserve evidence in the case after reading Tuesday’s Detroit News story
“It’s pretty clear from the story there’s an attempt to destroy evidence, and a judge needs to hear this,” Fieger told The News Wednesday.
A 10 a.m. hearing is scheduled Friday before federal Judge Gershwin Drain.
Fieger submitted a rebuttal late Thursday to the state’s response.
“Interestingly, the State of Michigan and Michigan State Police do not make any argument and do not set forth any facts in their response establishing that the evidence in this case has not been destroyed,” Fieger wrote.
“In fact, the (state and MSP) nowhere in their response even address whether or not the murder weapon in this case, that is the Taser, was tampered with and/or destroyed, thus completely ignoring the elephant in the room.”