DETROIT (AP) - A Michigan State Police trooper who fired his Taser at a teenager before the 15-year-old crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died had to make a "split-second decision" under tough circumstances, an attorney said.
"The death of Damon Grimes was tragic, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends," said Richard Convertino, an attorney for Trooper Mark Bessner.
Bessner is suspended while authorities investigate what happened last Saturday in Detroit. He's accused of firing a Taser at Damon from his patrol car. The teen crashed the ATV and died.
"Under no circumstance should any police officer ever shoot like a cowboy out of his vehicle," said attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing Damon's family and suing for $50 million.
Convertino released a statement Wednesday, saying the teen was evading arrest while driving recklessly in an urban area.
"Trooper Bessner was forced to make a split-second decision under circumstances on the scene and at the moment, which was tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving," Convertino said. "We are fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation and trust the investigators will assess the facts objectively in light of the totality of the circumstances."
The family believes the trooper ran into the back of the driver, causing him to fly off the ATV and hit the truck.
"My understanding is he may have a series of incidents that have followed him around so this situation is not an isolated incident," Fieger said.
FOX 2 looked into the trooper's background and found a 2013 complaint filed against him for police brutality near Sinai Grace Hospital. The plaintiff claimed that Bessner and other officers attacked him outside the hospital for no reason. The plaintiff claimed he was Tased by another officer and Bessner kneed him in the face and head multiple times while he was on the ground.
The plaintiff was arrested and treated for his injuries. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office never filed charges of resisting and obstruction against a police officer, as requested by police. The plaintiff was later released from jail without any charges.
The charges in that case were later dismissed without prejudice after the case was settled out of court.
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Meanwhile, more than 200 people gathered Wednesday night at the crash site, including 20 people on ATVs. Some shouted obscenities at police, and two men jumped onto the rear of a police cruiser. No arrests were made, Detroit Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said.
"It shouldn't have to be like this," said Damon's mother, Monique Grimes. "He was only 15. He enjoyed riding his bike. I just want justice for Dae Dae."