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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Detroit police commissioner says State Police have work to do to repair image in Detroit

Michigan State Police car
Joe Ross
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Citizens "were waiting on this person to be charged from day one because they look at it in terms of this was totally improper, this was totally out of order, this is not acceptable for conduct of an officer with Michigan State Police," Bell said.

 

 

Murder charges have been filed against a former Michigan State Police trooper who shot his taser at at 15-year-old boy as the teen was fleeing from police on an ATV.

 

The ATV crashed into a parked truck and killed Damon Grimes.

 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged former trooper Mark Bessner with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

 

That second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life.

Willie Bell, a member of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and a retired lieutenant from the Detroit Police Department, joined Stateside to share the community's reaction to the charge.

 

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

 

On his reaction to the charge

 

“I'm not surprised. Our prosecutor, Kym Worthy, has been very thorough and addressed issues like this in the past... but it's very significant to Detroiters because you look across this country and even in Michigan it's rather unusual to charge a police officer with murder in the line of duty. I support the decision that was made by the prosecutor, which is in conjunction with the spokesman with the Michigan State Police advocating they were supportive of the decision by the prosecutor Worthy in terms of this particular matter. Due to the circumstance, I think it warrants that type of charge.

 

“This was a matter of a civil infraction. The person was on an AT vehicle, the officers were in a scout car, and they violated basic common sense. The procedure for any officer in Michigan, that I'm aware of, you do not taser someone who is driving a vehicle. That is totally improper and that led to fatality, the person dying. Therefore, it merits that type of charge with a thorough investigation by all concerned parties, and the bottom line is the prosecutor finally made the decision to charge.”

 

On community healing

 

 

“I think [the police] have to be progressive in terms of their approach of dealing with Detroiters, come out more in terms of community activity, and speak to this issue. ... So as we go forward, I think they have to be more pro-Detroit in terms of the issue. People want public safety, they want law enforcement, but they want fair and constitutional policing in the city of Detroit, and that's regardless of the Michigan State Police or Wayne County Sheriff, or DPD. They want a fair and constitutional policing in Detroit.”

 

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