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Former MSP trooper charged in ATV death had four other instances of alleged taser abuse

Posted: 4:48 PM, Jun 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-08 12:30:20Z

A motion filed by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy shows that former Michigan State Police trooper Mark Bessner, who is facing charges for tasing a 15-year-old boy riding an ATV who died, had four other instances of alleged taser abuse.

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On Aug. 26, 2017, 15-year-old Damon Grimes was involved in a police pursuit with Bessner and his partner, Ethan Berger, while driving an ATV. Bessner deployed his taser, striking Grimes while he was in motion. He then lost control of the ATV, crashed into a parked vehicle and died.

About one week earlier, according to the motion, Bessner and Berger stopped a car in Detroit carrying a man, Michael Laidler, who was "uncooperative."

Bessner allegedly forcibly removed the man from the vehicle, saying "I'm going to get you out of this car. If you give me any trouble, I'm going to mess you up, man." 

Laidler repeatedly told him, "I don't want to fight." Bessner then allegedly stepped back and pulled out his taser as Berger "drive-stunned" Laidler with his own taser. Bessner resigned from MSP before facing discipline.

On July 14, 2017, Bessner and Berger were in pursuit of Forrest Harvey, who was riding an ATV in Detroit. After Harvey stopped, Bessner allegedly left his car, told Harvey to put his hands up and then tased him, all within two seconds.

According to the motion, MSP dashboard camera video does not show Harvey acting aggressively before he was tased. Bessner resigned from MSP before facing discipline.

On April 12, 2016, Bessner chased Timothy Rogers Hawk in Detroit, who was handcuffed at the time. Bessner allegedly tased Hawk twice after he was re-apprehended. Hawk was still handcuffed when he was being tased, according to the motion. MSP disciplined Bessner for the incident.

On September 17, 2014, Bessner was in pursuit of Michael Jerome Crittle, ending up at W. Warren and Trumbull in Detroit. Crittle was allegedly tased by Bessner four times after the chase, including once after Crittle was successfully handcuffed. He was disciplined by MSP for his actions.

In the filing, the Wayne County Prosecutor says that all four of the men "were tased where less violent methods of control were available," adding that Bessner "has a pattern of violence against a specific class of people."

"These acts further show [Bessner] systematically used his taser to punish those who opposed him," the motion states.

Willie Bell, a member of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, said Bessner should have been dealt with some time ago because "the red flags were there."

"When I look at this officer's background, it's unfortunate that supervision was not there, and accountability was not there and reporting was not there," he said. 

View the full motion below: 

Besnner Motion by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd