The family of a 15-year-old who was killed after a state trooper tased him while he was riding his ATV settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $12 million on Friday.
Damon Grimes died on August 26, 2017. He was riding his ATV in the street (which is illegal in the state of Michigan) when State Police trooper Mark Bessner ordered him to stop. Grimes did not comply with the officer’s demands and Bessner tased him. The teen crashed his ATV into a flatbed truck and died after sustaining blunt-force trauma to his head.
Bessner was fired and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. It is against State Policy to fire a Taser at a person operating a moving vehicle.
Bessner was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison.
Grimes’ mother, Monique Grimes, filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Bessner, fellow trooper Ethan Berger and Michigan State Police Sgt. Jacob Liss.
Berger, who was driving the cruiser, was fired in March 2018.
A settlement was reached on Friday.
“After extensive discovery reaching over 40 depositions, the parties have entered into a global settlement in the amount of $12 million,” the seven-page order said.
Kelly Rossman-McKinney, the spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel, said state police authorized the settlement.
Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said in a written statement: “The Michigan State Police extends its continued condolences to the Grimes family, friends and supporters. Damon Grimes’ death is a tragedy that could have been avoided if not for the criminal and unforgivable actions of a former MSP trooper.
“The MSP recognizes that while this monetary settlement does not change how this has affected the Grimes family, it may help to begin to bring some closure. The MSP sincerely apologizes to everyone impacted by this senseless act, and we have prioritized working with our troopers and the community to avoid this from happening again.”
The Rev. W.J. Rideout, who organized protests after the incident, said justice was served, although he added: “It will never bring back the life of Damon Grimes.”
“I’m glad the family got something out of this, but it’ll never bring him back,” Rideout said. “However, some justice was served in this case, and the officer — or, I should say, the murderer — is in prison serving time.
“We just hope and pray this will send a message to other police officers that they cannot get away with blatant murder.”