Authorities have released disturbing footage of a police pursuit that ended in a fatal crash on Detroit’s east side last summer, taking the life of a 15-year-old boy.
According to station WXYZ-TV, teenager Damon Grimes was involved in a police chase on Aug. 25, 2017, that turned deadly after a Michigan State Trooper tried to pull him over for driving recklessly on an ATV. Grimes allegedly refused to stop and a chase ensued, during which a trooper deployed his taser, striking the teen.
The jolt caused Grimes to crash into the back of a pick-up truck, killing him.
Investigators at WXYZ-TV have since combed through 25-hours worth of surveillance video from the deadly crash obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Videos from police body cameras and dashboard cameras, as well as cell phone video shot by witnesses, have helped piece together the moments that led to Grimes’ senseless death.
Just after 5:30 p.m., a clip of the incident shows Grimes cruising down Rossini Avenue and Gratiot in Detroit on his ATV. That is when Trooper Mark Bessner requests priority to chase the teen. At some point, Grimes is shocked with the powerful volts of electricity, after which he slams into the back of a parked pickup. The impact was enough to send him flying from his ATV and “ripped gashes into his forehead, both cheeks and upper lip and dislocated his skull,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
“He’s got a pulse, and he’s breathing,” Bessner said into his police radio moments after the accident. “He’s unconscious.”
“He slowed down,” the trooper added. “We tased him, and he crashed out.”
In the footage, other troopers are seen doing CPR on Grimes as they wait for an ambulance to arrive. Some seemed disgusted by what had just happened.
“His pulse is weakening; what’s our ETA?” someone is heard saying over dispatch.
” … His pulse is weakening because he was on that fuckin’ thing and you chased his ass,” Detroit Police Officer Kimberly Buckner said under her breath as she exited her vehicle, her bodycam still rolling.
“They tased his ass while he was cruising,” said another unnamed Detroit officer who approached Buckner and placed a hand over the lens of her bodycam. Moments later, Buckner’s camera is completely turned off.”
It remains unclear exactly why police started chasing Grime’s in the first place, but a report filed by Bessner’s partner, Ethan Berger, who was driving at the time of the incident, said they saw the teen pop a “wheelie” on his ATV while he traveled at “at a high rate of speed” through a residential neighborhood.
“Don’t run from the State Police, you get f—-d up,” one officer remarks in the video.
Video from officer Emily Stephenson’s body camera captured the moment the ambulance arrived to the scene about seven minutes later, showing a stretcher being wheeled up to the teen’s body. Stephenson’s camera is shut off at this point, but the audio is still rolling.
“Should we give them like an escort or something?” she asks Detroit Officer Aubrey Wade. “Should we give them an escort to St. Johns?”
“For him? Hell no!” Wade responds, explaining that such measures are only taken when an officer is injured. “They got lights and sirens. We only do that for police,” he said. “If an officer gets shot we’ll do that.”
Grimes was dead pronounced dead on arrival at St. John Hospital, WXYZ reported.
Trooper Bessner is now awaiting a murder trial after breaking protocol and deploying the taser that led to Grimes’ deadly crash. He resigned from Michigan State Police amid an investigation into the incident. As for Wade, he was suspended for his crass comments.
Grimes’s family has since filed a $50 million civil suit against Bessner and a $75,000 suit against Berger, according to the station.