Judge declares mistrial for former MSP trooper in Detroit teen's ATV death case

Hung jury leads to mistrial for Mark Bessner

Bessner trial Oct. 31, 2018. (WDIV)
Bessner trial Oct. 31, 2018. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A hung jury in the trial of former Michigan State Police trooper Mark Bessner left the judge no choice but to declare a mistrial.

The decision was made Wednesday after the jury deliberated for three days without reaching a verdict.

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"At this time, we have no choice but to accept their hung jury and their mistrial," Judge Margaret Van Houten said.

Bessner was facing second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly firing his Taser at 15-year-old Damon Grimes while the teen was on an ATV last summer.

Grimes crashed and didn't survive.

"The family is distraught," family spokesperson Oliver Gantt said. "To me, it's just another black eye in the community when it comes to officers shooting black men."

Gantt said he believes there were red flags from the start.

"We hope that they have a more aggressive prosecutor next time and they have a better jury, even though we know you're entitled to a jury of your peers," Gantt said.

Defense attorney Richard Covertino said there was too much for the jury to figure out.

"The evidence was so difficult," Covertino said. "It's such an emotional case and impassioned case that I think they just had difficulty wading through the evidence and giving it the deliberations."

Bessner did not comment outside court.

The prosecution and the defense are now gearing up for round two. A pretrial conference will be held Nov. 7.

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