Suspended MSP trooper will plead the 5th if called to testify in trooper's ATV-rider murder trial

Posted at 7:04 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 19:04:04-04

Suspended Michigan State Police Trooper Ethan Berger told a judge Tuesday that he will plead the fifth if called to the stand in the trial of his former partner, Mark Bessner. 

Bessner, who is charged with Second Degree Murder, is accused of using a taser on 15-year-old Damon Grimes during a chase in August 2017.

Grimes was riding an ATV on a residential street on Detroit's east side when Berger, who was driving a marked Michigan State Police vehicle, and Bessner, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, chased the teen.

State Police said Bessner violated department policy when he shot his taser out of the moving police vehicle.

The taser hit Grimes, he lost control and died after crashing into a parked vehicle. 

Bessner is expected to claim his actions were in self-defense. 

Berger's attorney, Ed Zelenak, said Berger was facing the possibility of prosecution in the case, so he advised him to invoke his right against self-incrimination. 

Bessner took the stand Monday to testify that he thought his conversations with Trooper Jay Morningstar following the incident were privileged and confidential. 

Morningstar is a union representative for troopers, but at that time he was also a member of MSP's Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM). 

The Judge sided with Bessner and his attorney, Richard Convertino, and ruled that Bessner's conversations with Morningstar are not admissible. 

Bessner's trial begins Monday.