Michigan (NBC)(12/31/19)— The family of a teenage boy killed in 2017 by a Michigan State Trooper after he was shot with a taser while riding an all-terrain vehicle reached a $12 million settlement.
Damon Grimes’ mother and two sisters will receive $7.8 million, according to court documents in their wrongful death lawsuit against the Michigan State Police. The family’s lawyers will receive about $4 million.
Damon, age 15, died in August 2017 after Trooper Mark Bessner fired his taser at him from the front seat of a patrol car, while Bessner and his partner chased the boy. Damon’s ATV crashed after he was shot with the stun gun.
Bessner, who had a history of misconduct allegations involving his taser use, quit the state police after the teen’s death and was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He was found guilty in April, sentenced to five to 15 years a month later, and ordered to pay restitution to the Grimes family.
Prosecutor Matthew Penney told jurors that Bessner knew that using his taser was “going to cause some serious harm to Damon Grimes.”
State police condemned Bessner’s conduct and said they believed the charges were appropriate.
In a statement on Monday, the department called Damon’s death a tragedy that could have been avoided “if not for the criminal and unforgivable actions” of Bessner.
According to the statement, “The Michigan State Police extends its continued condolences to the Grimes’ family, friends and supporters. 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.”
During his trial, Bessner said he deployed his Taser because he believed Damon had a gun. The teenager did not have a weapon on him.
Two months before Damon was killed, Bessner was cleared of misconduct for having fired his taser at a handcuffed suspect who fled during a traffic stop. He was also accused of misconduct and agreed to a brief suspension for using his taser on a handcuffed man in 2014.
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