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Trooper tases teen on ATV. Police video reveals what happens next.

'He slowed down. We tased him, and he crashed out,' Former state trooper Mark Bessner said of the Detroit encounter that killed Damon Grimes.

​​​​​​​Elisha Anderson (John Wisely and Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press)

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Published: 4/13/2018 12:11:21 PM
Updated: 2:09 PM EDT April 13, 2018

As 15-year-old Damon Grimes lay dying in the middle of Rossini Drive last August, Michigan State Police Trooper Mark Bessner crouched over his body.

“He’s got a pulse, and he’s breathing. He’s unconscious,” Bessner said into his police radio, adding later, “He slowed down. We tased him, and he crashed out.”

Grimes had been driving about 35 mph on an ATV when Bessner — a passenger in a moving patrol car — fired his stun gun at the teen during a chase on Detroit’s east side.

Grimes slammed into the back of a parked truck and flew off his ATV. The impact of the crash ripped gashes into his forehead, both cheeks and upper lip and dislocated his skull. Doctors pronounced him dead on arrival at St. John Hospital.

Bessner, who resigned from his job amid a criminal investigation, has been charged with murder.

To better understand what happened the evening of Aug. 26, the Free Press used the Michigan Freedom of Information Act to request extensive records related to the crash. It received almost 11 hours of footage captured by cameras mounted in patrol cars, on nearby businesses and worn by Detroit Police officers, who also responded to the incident.

Credit: Michigan State Police
Former Michigan State Police trooper Mark Bessner, left, stands over the unconscious body of Damon Grimes in Detroit on Aug. 26, 2017. This image is a video frame grab from Detroit Police body cam footage.   

The Free Press also obtained almost 16 hours of audio recordings from police radios and phones as well as more than 600 pages of documents and more than 500 photos. Michigan State Police took six months to provide those records, which were heavily redacted. For example, State Police withheld all footage captured from the camera in Bessner's squad car, and also blurred the video of Grimes.

Still, the video and audio files that were turned over by MSP show elements of the chase and its aftermath from dozens of angles and perspectives with candid, real-time comments provided by police officers seeing the events unfold in front of them.

Seen and heard in the materials are:

- Security camera video showing the final seconds of the chase

- Emergency lights on top of the patrol car start flashing 24 seconds after the crash

- Bessner acknowledging using the stun gun on Grimes as he rode the ATV

- Unfiltered talk from officers including one who says "Don't run from the State Police, you'll get fucked up."

Communities across the nation are equipping officers with body cameras to document police contacts with the public. Detroit Police began wearing them in 2016 but little footage from their cameras has become public — until now.

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