'Distinct possibility' ex-trooper will testify as prosecutors prepare to rest their case

Posted at 5:33 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 17:33:27-04

As prosecutors prepare to rest their case against Mark Bessner on Thursday, the ex-trooper's defense attorney Richard Convertino tells 7 Action News there's a "distinct possibility" Bessner will take the stand in his own defense on Monday.

Bessner is accused of causing the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes during a short chase on August 26, 2017. Bessner and his partner, Ethan Berger, were attempting to stop the teen who was riding his ATV on Detroit's east side.  

On Wednesday, Ariel Houser testified that she witnessed seconds of the chase and then saw Grimes crash into a parked pickup truck. 

"He lost control, and his hands started to make a back and forth motion, and, so, the ATV started to move as he lost control of it and he hit, um, smacked right into the side of the truck," said Houser who had been sitting in a parked vehicle on Rossini near Gratiot.

"He had blunt force injuries to his head," said Dr. David Moons, an assistant medical examiner for Wayne County who performed the autopsy on Grimes a day after the teen died. "I was just informed that he had been involved in a police chase that resulted in an ATV crash into another vehicle.

Moons said he removed two taser probes from Grimes, including the needle of one probe that had penetrated the skin on his back. A second probe came to rest in the teen's hair, about an inch to an inch-and-a-half away from his scalp.

"The use of the taser could be considered use of deadly force, depending on the circumstances," said Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Barry Schrader, a trainer in the use of a taser. 

Schrader testified that the needles from two probes, penetrating a person's skin, deliver an electrical charge through the body, but that one probe landing about an inch away from the person's skin is enough to produce the circuit and still "incapacitate" them. 

Bessner was in the passenger seat of the Michigan State Police car during the chase with another trooper, Ethan Berger, driving. 

Bessner's defense is that during the chase he was holding the taser because he thought Grimes was going to ditch his ATV and try to get away on foot. 

It's illegal to ride an ATV on residential streets in the city. 

Bessner claims he saw the teen drop one of his hands, leading him to believe that Grimes was going for a gun. 

No weapon was found on Grimes.

The jury heard Bessner on his police radio, just moments after the crash: "0-9. He slowed down. We tased him, and he crashed out."

On that radio transmission, Bessner did not make any mention of thinking the person he just tased had a weapon. 

The jury is not expected to hear testimony from Bessner's partner that day. 

Berger has told the judge that he'll plead the 5th if called to the stand.