Jury seated in ex-trooper's ATV death trial

A jury was seated Monday afternoon in the trial of a former Michigan State trooper charged in the death of a Detroit teen killed in an ATV crash.

Mark Bessner is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes in the summer of 2017.

Bessner will possibly claim self-defense, his attorneys said during a final pretrial hearing earlier this month.

Opening statements are expected Tuesday before Judge Margaret Van Houten, who is presiding over the trial in Wayne County Circuit Court. 

Bessner is charged with Tasing the teen while he and another trooper chased him, causing Grimes to crash into a parked truck near Gratiot and Rossini Drive during a chase Aug. 26, 2017.

Bessner has allegedly "punitively" used his Taser against others civilians in other incidents in Detroit, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Grimes did not make any "aggressive motions or gestures" during the chase, according to court filings by the prosecutor's office. Michigan State Police policy bars troopers from using Tasers from moving vehicles.

According to court records from the prosecutor's office reviewed by The Detroit News, Bessmer "punitively" used his Taser against other civilians on July 14, 2017, April 12, 2016, and Sept. 17, 2014. He was "intimately" involved in another "punitive tasering" incident Aug. 18, eight days before he chased Grimes, according to the court records. 

Bessner also was the subject of lawsuits that were filed in Wayne County Circuit Court on allegations of brutality. He was suspended Aug. 28, 2017, in the wake of the Grimes case and resigned Sept. 22, 2017.

Michigan State Police officials released a statement last year condemning Bessner's action in the Grimes incident. 

Bessner's defense attorney, Richard Convertino, had requested a change-of-venue in the trial, citing intense media coverage. The judge denied his request.

Convertino said during a pretrial hearing in August that Tasers are tools for law enforcement and that "the use of a Taser can occur when there's active aggression."


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