$50 million lawsuit filed against state trooper involved in teen's deadly ATV crash in Detroit

State police say trooper used Taser on teen before deadly crash

DETROIT – A $50 million lawsuit is being filed against a Michigan State Police trooper involved in a 15-year-old boy's deadly ATV chase and crash. 

Southfield-based attorney Geoffrey Fieger is filing the suit on behalf of Damon Grimes' family. Grimes, 15, was killed when he crashed the ATV about 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Rossini Drive and Gratiot Avenue on the city's east side. State police said the troopers attempted to stop the teen for reckless driving, but the teen fled on the ATV and crashed into the rear of a pickup truck. 

Two counts were filed in the suit against the trooper: violation of the federal civil rights act and gross negligence.

Read the full complaint here.

Trooper suspended

A trooper was suspended earlier this week after state police said a preliminary examination revealed the trooper deployed his Taser during the pursuit, striking Grimes prior to the crash. 

"The troopers activated their emergency lights and siren, but the ATV driver refused to stop. The troopers pursued the ATV east on Rossini, and as the ATV approached Gratiot Avenue, the driver attempted to drive off the roadway onto the sidewalk, but crashed into the rear of a pickup truck," a statement from Michigan State Police reads.

Fieger, who spoke during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, compared the trooper to a cowboy.

“I cannot conceive, under any set of circumstances, a justification for a police officer doing a drive-by shooting of a child on an ATV,” Fieger said.

Fieger said the trooper has a history of using excessive force.

“This situation is not an isolated incident,” Fieger said.

Detroit police launch independent investigation

Detroit police Chief James Craig said his department will launch an independent investigation during a news conference Monday.

"I am not a proponent of high-speed chases involving traffic infractions, or those involving misdemeanors," Craig said.

Craig said the investigation in no way negatively reflects on MSP, but that a situation such as this warrants an independent investigation.

Witnesses say they saw trooper use Taser

Residents said the neighborhood hasn't had a problem with children driving ATV's on roads.

"We stay in this area, and it was never a problem," said Sargent Beasley, a friend of the victim.  "Now all of a sudden a state trooper has chased him, and now he comes up dead."

Witnesses said the trooper pulled close to the ATV and fired his Taser during the chase, and they believe it might have caused Grimes to crash.

"He was riding, and he went tense, like this," a witness said. "That was it. As soon as he did that, he lost control and flipped over."

The suit alleges the trooper left the scene after Grimes crashed.

For family and friends of Grimes, there is no consoling the grief.

"He didn't do nothing to nobody," Beasley said. "He didn't deserve this."

"This is a nightmare," said Kimberley Powell, the victim's aunt. "This is a complete nightmare for my family. We're just keeping in prayer. We're just asking for God. That's the only person who can get us through this right now."

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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.