$12M settlement approved in teen ATV driver's death

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A federal judge Thursday formally approved a $12 million settlement in the lawsuit brought by the family of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, who died in 2017 after a Michigan State Trooper stunned him with his Taser while he drove an ATV.

Under the agreement approved by U.S. Circuit Judge Gershwin Drain, Grimes' mother, Monique Grimes, will initially receive $3.325 million, with another $4 million to be parceled out over 20 years in an annuity that will pay her about $20,000 per month.

Damon Grimes

Grimes' sisters Dezjanai and Dezanique Grimes each will get $250,000, per the agreement.

The law firm Fieger, Fieger, Kenney & Harrington, which represented Monique Grimes in the suit, will receive about $4 million, or 30% of the total settlement.

The settlement agreement, announced in December, was approved by Drain during a brief hearing Thursday.

"It is a very fair and reasonable settlement," the judge said. ""I think it's more than most people would get under the circumstances."

Monique Grimes answered a series of questions during the hearing, such as whether she thought the settlement was fair, which she answered affirmatively. She declined to comment after the hearing, as did her attorney James Harrington IV.

Assistant state attorney general John Fedynsky, representing two defendants, former Michigan State Police trooper Ethan Berger and Sgt. Jacob Liss, also declined to comment.

Damon Grimes died Aug. 26, 2017. He was riding his ATV in the street illegally when MSP trooper Mark Bessner ordered him to stop. Grimes didn't comply, and Bessner fired his Taser at him. The teen crashed into a flatbed truck and died after sustaining blunt-force trauma to his head.

It's against State Police policy to fire a Taser into a moving vehicle. Bessner was fired, and in May, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Judge Margaret Van Houten of Wayne County Circuit Court exceeded the sentencing guidelines of 19-38 months and sentenced the ex-trooper to 5-15 years in prison.

Grimes' mother, Monique Grimes, retained Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Bessner, Berger and Liss. 

Berger, who was driving the cruiser, was fired in March 2018, was reinstated by an arbitrator and later resigned. 


(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN