Former MSP trooper charged in Detroit teen's ATV death breaks down on witness stand

Mark Bessner charged in death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes

DETROIT – The former Michigan State Police trooper charged in the death of a 15-year-old Detroit boy took the witness stand Thursday and broke down in tears.

Mark Bessner described what was going through his mind during the moments after Damon Grimes was shocked by his Taser and crashed an ATV into the back of a truck.

In his time on the stand, Bessner offered new insight into why he and his partner decided to chase the teen in the first place.

It was considered risky for Bessner to testify, but many times in trials, the jury members will say after a verdict that they wish they had heard from the defendant.

Bessner told the court he and his partner were in an east-side neighborhood beefing up patrols due to ongoing complaints about people riding ATVs. On that day, Bessner spotted Grimes on his ATV. He testified that when they tried to stop Grimes, the teen didn't originally run away.

"It was very odd to have that vehicle coming right at us," Bessner said.

Bessner testified that he feared for his safety, thinking Grimes was armed.

"It was a deadly force situation and I used the tool I had available to me," Bessner said.

Bessner deployed his Taser from the moving police cruiser, causing Grimes to crash. He talked about how he rendered aide and searched the boy for a weapon.

"Why did you search for a weapon?" Bessner was asked.

"I was certain he had one," Bessner said.

He continued on, displaying an array of emotions about that night.

WATCHTrooper testifies about using Taser in Detroit teen's deadly ATV crash

"It was a terrible tragedy, and all I could think of is that this family had lost their son, and all I could think of was my daughter and what they're going through," Bessner said.

Bessner was asked if the use of a Taser was justified.

"I thought it was at the time," Bessner said. "It was a terrible decision."

The jury will have to decide if the decision was justified or neglectful. Closing arguments are set to resume Monday morning.


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