The family of a 15-year-old boy who was killed by a Michigan state trooper in 2017 has reached a $12 million settlement with the Michigan State Police Department.
According to The New York Times, Damon Grimes was riding an All-terrain vehicle (A.T.V.) in a Detroit neighborhood when he was tasered by Michigan State Police Trooper Mark Bessner after he refused to pull over for illegal riding.
Grimes, as a result of the impact of the stun, crashed his A.T.V. into the back of a parked car and died afterward.
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Bessner, who was on the passenger side of the patrol vehicle when he tasered Grimes, was suspended after the incident and he subsequently resigned. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2019 and sentenced to five to fifteen years behind bars.
“We hope this kind of money will act as a deterrent, but unfortunately it rarely does,” Geoffrey Fieger, attorney for the Grimes family said.
Grimes’ family will receive $7.8 million with about $4 million going to their lawyers. According to Fieger, this is the largest settlement ever paid by the Michigan State Police Department for a single incident, The New York Times reports.
“This settlement is about justice,” Fieger said. “But justice doesn’t get back their son.”
The Michigan State Police released a statement after the settlement on Friday commiserating with the Grimes family.
“The Michigan State Police extends its continued condolences to the Grimes family, friends and supporters. Damon Grimes’ death is a tragedy that could have been avoided if not for the criminal and unforgivable actions of a former MSP trooper,” the statement read.
“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. The MSP sincerely apologizes to everyone impacted by this senseless act and we have prioritized working with our troopers and the community to avoid this from happening again.”
Grimes’ avoidable death immediately brought about sweeping changes and reforms in the Michigan State Police Department’s pursuit policy in Detroit.
The amended policy disallows state troopers from pursuing vehicles that have committed minor traffic violations or misdemeanors, The New York Times further reports.
Though the stun guns can be used to subdue suspects resisting arrest or restrain prisoners, officers have also been instructed to refrain from using it on women, children, the elderly as well as the sick or those who are impaired.