Family of teen killed on ATV by state trooper settles wrongful death lawsuit for $12M

Posted at 2:57 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-28 10:47:05-05

(WXYZ) — The family of a Detroit teenager who crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died after he was shot with a Taser has reached a $12 million settlement in a lawsuit against state troopers, lawyers said Friday.

The agreement was filed in U.S. District Court, months after Mark Bessner was sentenced to at least five years in prison for causing the death of Damon Grimes.

Grimes' mother, Monique Grimes, would receive $7.3 million, according to the settlement, which still needs approval from a judge. Geoffrey Fieger's law firm would receive roughly $4 million.

Bessner and a partner were patrolling a Detroit neighborhood in 2017 when Grimes, 15, drove an ATV near their car. The white troopers turned around and pursued the black teen. As they got closer, Bessner fired a Taser, which releases stainless steel barbs.

Grimes crashed into a parked pickup truck and died. Bessner said he believed the boy had a gun in his waistband, but Grimes didn't have a weapon.

Bessner, 45, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He will be eligible for parole in 2024.

“The facts of this case are so horrendous. ... The attorney general did the right thing and settled the case, and didn't subject the state to a trial that could have resulted in a much larger verdict,” Fieger told The Detroit News.

Bessner had a history of aggressive force. Just two months before Grimes' death, an arbitrator had cleared him of misconduct in how he used a Taser while chasing a crime suspect. State police wanted to suspend him for 10 days.

Michigan State Police released this statement in response to the settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit by the Grimes Family:

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.

Bessner is currently imprisoned at a correctional facility in Ionia.

View the lawsuit below:

Damon Grimes Fatal ATV Lawsuit Settlement Agreement Document by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd