Ex-Mich. trooper to be retried in ATV death next spring
The former Michigan State Police trooper charged in the death of a teenage ATV rider who crashed into a parked truck seconds after being Tased will go back on trial April 1.
The first trial for Mark Bessner, accused of causing the 2017 crash that killed 15-year-old Damon Grimes, ended last week in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Wayne County Judge Margaret Van Houten on Wednesday set March 8 as the deadline for all motions and other pretrial offers and issues surrounding the case.
Bessner's bond of $1 million and 24-hour tether were continued. The judge has allowed him to seek employment between the hours of 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Grimes was driving an ATV when Bessner and his partner gave chase in the area of Rossini and Gratiot around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 last year when Bessner Tased the teen. Seconds later Grimes, crashed into a parked pickup on Rossini.
Bessner, 44, testified during his trial that he deployed his Taser because he believed his life and that of his partner, who refused to testify during the trial, was in danger. The former trooper also said he saw Grimes reaching his left hand toward his waistband.
Several witnesses testified before Bessner's testimony that they did not see Grimes' hands leave the handlebars of the ATV that day.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Matthew Penney said during his closing arguments there was no justification for the Taser to be deployed. He said the four witnesses who testified that they never saw Grimes' hands leave the ATV's handlebars had no motive to lie.
Penney said Bessner had no "reasonability" to use deadly force, saying he didn't yell "gun, gun, gun" on his mike to dispatchers.
"He doesn't say anything like 'I thought there was a gun' until the ambulance left," the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said the only thing Grimes was guilty of was riding an ATV in the city, which is a nuisance violation.
"Penney asked jurors: "Where’s the explanation? It's not there."
Defense attorney Richard Convertino told jurors during closing arguments that they must not view Bessner's actions with "20/20 hindsight." He said his client was forced to make a "split-second decision" in a tense, uncertain and "rapidly evolving" situation.
Convertino said Bessner "had no idea what was in the mind of Damon Grimes" or what the teen's intentions were that day during the chase when the teen allegedly sped past the troopers.
"You must consider the police officer's point of view ... perspective," said Convertino. "They're forced to make split second decision in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving."