Four Detroit area police officers await trial for murder, use of excessive force


Four Detroit area police officers await trial for murder, use of excessive force

Tyler Van Dyke

3 March 2018

Four police officers are currently awaiting trial in Wayne County, encompassing greater Detroit, for excessive use of force including murder. The multiple indictments, highly unusual, come after a year that saw public outrage over a series of incidents of police violence directed against unarmed and unresisting citizens.

The incidents occurred in a sharply polarized city, seething with social tension, in the wake of mass water shutoffs and social cuts following the 2014 Detroit bankruptcy. A so-called revitalization plan for the city has benefited wealthier areas in a narrow band around downtown while largely bypassing poorer neighborhoods.

Michigan State Trooper Mark Bessner waived a preliminary hearing and will face trial for the murder of Detroit teenager Damon Grimes, who died August 26, 2017 in a police killing that sparked boisterous protests. The officer was indicted in December 2017 for firing his taser from the passenger seat of his moving police car, hitting Grimes as he rode on an ATV and causing him to crash into a parked pickup truck. Grimes soon after died of his injuries. Grimes was just 15 years old.

His family has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Michigan State Police.

In announcing the indictment Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said at a news conference, “Trooper Bessner unnecessarily deployed his Taser at Mr. Grimes without legal justification or excuse as Mr. Grimes was traveling at least 35 to 40 miles per hour.”

Bessner is facing one count of second-degree murder and two counts of involuntary manslaughter—one being that death occurred when its intent was injury, the second gross negligence. The maximum penalty for…

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