Former Michigan State Trooper Mark Bessner was charged with murder last week in the tasing death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes. The officer’s sordid work history now being revealed shows he left a trail of destructive, reckless, and cowardly behavior in his wake. Despite numerous lawsuits and attempts to discipline the officer, his on-duty unlawful actions were only stopped after they led to the death of an innocent unarmed child.
As we reported this summer, Bessner attempted to force Grimes to pull his ATV off of the road by shooting his taser at him. The thoughtless plan backfired when Grimes apparently seized and slammed into the back of a parked pickup truck killing him instantly.
The mid-August killing of the rising 9th grader stunned not only the community but Grimes’ family who immediately began calling for justice. They also filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Michigan State Police and demanded an inquiry into the death of their beloved family member.
According to the Detroit Press, Bessner was involved in several controversial deployments of his taser. They write:
State police wanted to suspend Bessner for 10 days for firing his Taser twice at a handcuffed man who was running away in 2016. But an arbitrator said there was no “just cause” for discipline.
Unfortunately, as TFTP has reported to the point of exhaustion, few officers are ever disciplined for unlawful and unethical actions committed while on duty. Not only do many if not most receive a paid suspension, often the suspension never leads to the officers’ firing. In the rare occasion when an officer is fired, they simply become “gypsy cops” going from one department to another until they screw up again, or kill someone like Bessner did. His work history is no different.
In 2014, Bessner also fired his Taser at a suspect who was handcuffed during a traffic stop in Detroit. He agreed to a five-day suspension, records show, but four days were eventually dropped.
The slap on the wrist one-day suspension was not enough behavior modification to keep Bessner from using his Taser to attack people. Just months later, Grimes was killed and now the former officer is being held on a $1 million bond while he awaits his trial for murder. Not even the Michigan State Police are standing with him, either. Spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw said:
His behavior was criminal. We’re not trying to pull the rug over anyone’s eyes.
Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy did not mince words. She said there was no reason for the officer to deploy his taser on the teenager, especially from a moving vehicle. But Bessner, as previously noted, had been accused on multiple occasions of using excessive force. Most of those accusations resulted in lawsuits which were later dismissed. But one case of recklessness was never solved. Not only did he taser people with reckless abandon, even people who were already in handcuffs, he drove his police-issued cruiser in equally as reckless fashion. According to the Detroit Press:
Bessner’s personnel file also shows he faced a misconduct allegation in March. State police said he was driving at high speed without emergency lights or sirens. The case apparently wasn’t resolved before he quit last fall.
That accusation, as TFTP has reported, is the number one reason police officers get killed while on duty—death by vehicle—with the officers being the only occupant on most occasions. Unfortunately, not only was the officer not disciplined by his department, given a slap on the wrist when he was disciplined and had his court cases dismissed, but he kept his position as an officer of the peace long enough for him to become known in cop watcher circles as a “killer cop.”
Now, the family of this innocent child will have to live the rest of their lives knowing this “killer cop” should’ve never had a badge in the first place and their son’s death could’ve been prevented if departments actually held their own officers accountable.
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