Former state trooper found guilty of lesser involuntary manslaughter charge in Detroit teen's death

Mark Bessner found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Damon Grimes' death

Mark Bessner is overcome with emotion as he testifies in court on Oct. 25, 2018. (WDIV)
Mark Bessner is overcome with emotion as he testifies in court on Oct. 25, 2018. (WDIV)

DETROIT – A jury found former Michigan State Police Trooper Mark Bessner guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Detroit teen Damon Grimes.

Bessner was sent straight to jail Wednesday after the proceedings at 36th District Court. His family was visibly upset and said very little throughout the case.

Bessner didn't move a muscle as the jurors read the guilty verdict.

"Guilty of the lesser offense, count two, involuntary manslaughter," a juror said.

Grimes' family didn't speak outside of court. The 15-year-old boy was killed two years ago when Bessner shocked him with a Taser while he was riding an all-terrain vehicle.

"It's not going to bring their son back, so it's not a celebration in the sense of a celebration, but it's a sense of justice for them," activist Oliver Gantt said.

Gantt said the retrial had a different feel than the first trial.

"I'm going to give it to the prosecutor," Gantt said. "He presented the case a lot different than he did in the first trial."

Prosecutors presented a new key piece of evidence this time around: another chase video that appears to show Bessner speaking about wanting to use his Taser on another person.

"I think anybody in that courtroom felt what the prosecutor had done," Gantt said.

Bessner was not handcuffed. He walked out of the courtroom to report to jail until his sentencing.

Michigan State Police released the following statement:

"Today, former trooper Mark Bessner was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Damon Grimes of Detroit. The Michigan State Police appreciates the careful deliberation of the men and women of the jury and we are grateful to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for their dedication to justice. We send our sincere condolences to the family, friends and supporters of Damon Grimes."

About the Authors:

Koco joined the Local 4 News team in September of 2016. She was born and raised in Metro Detroit, attended Central Michigan University, and previously worked at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.