A former Michigan State Police trooper receive only minor punishment for improper Taser use before he fired his stun gun and caused 15-year-old Damon Grimes to fatally crash his ATV, the Detroit Free Press reported. The Police misuse of Tasers is common but largely overshadowed by gun shootings.
An arbitrator blocked the state police department’s attempt to punish the ex-trooper, Mark Bessner, with a 10-day suspension for firing his stun gun twice at a fleeing handcuffed suspect. Instead, Bessner received a one-day suspension and a slap on the wrist, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Prosecutors charged Bessner with second-degree murder for Grimes’ Aug. 26 death. He recklessly fired a Taser from his moving patrol car in pursuit of the teen who was trying to escape a citation. Firing from a moving vehicle violated the department’s policy. In the earlier 2014 incident, Bessner was involved in the arrest of a man during a traffic stop in Detroit. While handcuffed, the suspect ran away and Bessner fired at him, which also violated the department’s policies on Taser use.
Approximately 1,005 people have died from police Tasers, according to a Reuters analysis of data from court documents, police reports and news accounts. At least 442 wrongful death lawsuits were filed, including 435 suits against the police and municipalities. The news organization obtained autopsy reports on about 70 percent of the deaths and found that Tasers were listed as a cause of death or contributing factor in 153 of those cases. In Grimes’ case, the teen crashed into a parked truck after Bessner’s Taser struck him.
Here are a few of the high-profile police Taser shootings that garnered media attention:
1. Linwood Lambert
Lambert was tasered nearly twenty times while in handcuffs and leg shackles before he died in custody of the South Boston, Virginia Police Department.
2. Tashii Brown
A Las Vegas police officer was charged in the death Tashii Brown, who was unarmed, when the officer shocked him several times with a stun gun, punched him in the face and put Brown in an unauthorized chokehold during an arrest.
3. Mathew Ajibade
Mathew Ajibade, a mentally ill Georgia man, was tasered while restrained in jail by sheriff’s deputies.
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