(WXYZ) — Former Michigan State Police trooper Mark Bessner has been sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.
Bessner was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes.
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Damon Grimes was riding an ATV on Detroit’s east side in August 2017 when Bessner used a taser on Grimes from a moving car — the move led to Grimes crashing his ATV into a pickup truck killing Grimes from a blunt force trauma injury.
Inside the Third Judicial Circuit courtroom of Judge Van Houten, Bessner fought back tears explaining that he thought of Grimes every day.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a child,” he said, turning back to look at the Grimes family which spoke on the deceased teens behalf moments earlier. “I understand their anger, the anger at me — but judge I hope this court will not be driven by anger.”
This is hard to listen to. Grimes’ aunt finishes up telling Bessner she wants him to think of her boy when his children graduate, fall in love and have kids — notes Damon will never have that chance. Below are some more quotes I’ve jotted down. It’s a struggle to not tear up. pic.twitter.com/gT5CKajOmF— Matthew Smith (@MattSmithWXYZ) May 13, 2019
After carefully going over sentencing protocol, Judge Van Houten explained that the guidelines are not mandatory. She estimated that the traditional sentence would be between 19 and 38 months, but chose to give a longer sentence after considering Damon Grimes age, and the amount of training Bessner was given and prior warnings he’d received while on the job.
She also singled out Bessner telling him that it is “the few officers like you” that create mistrust for all other officers who fulfill their duties.
It’s a concern that the Grimes family didn’t shy away from afterwards.
Inside the courtroom Damon Grimes aunt addressed Bessner directly explaining the loss they have in their home, how the teen’s death has changed their lives — noting he’ll never have a first kiss, a first date, a graduation or any other milestones they’d long looked forward to.
Outside the courthouse, more family members addressed the fear created by violence against a teen by an officer.
“To be honest no,” said Dezanique Grimes when asked whether she still trusts police. “They’re supposed to protect and serve us. He wasn’t protecting and serving nothing that day — I feel like if it comes to me dealing with the law I’ll be nervous, I’ll be scared.”
HAPPENING TODAY: Mark Bessner will be sentenced for involuntary manslaughter He's the trooper who used a taser on a teen in 2017. 15-YO Damon Grimes crashed and died. Bessner faces up to 15 years. A @wxyzdetroit breakdown of timeline is below, full video: https://t.co/gZ1IJQolrh pic.twitter.com/FbYoXLLbuV
— Matthew Smith (@MattSmithWXYZ) May 13, 2019