Ex-Trooper claims self-defense in deadly ATV accident

- Former state trooper Mark Bessner is now claiming self-defense in the killing of 15-year old Damon Grimes. 

Bessner fired a taser at Grimes as he drove and ATV and claims he saw the teen reaching for his waistband.

Something prosecutors say he never mentioned days after the incident.

“It's a whole year later if it was self-defense why didn't you say that when it first happened? Why didn't you radio that into whoever you were talking to at the station and tell them I tasered because it was self-defense?” Brittani Winfield said, Damon Grimes sister.

News of Bessner’s defense has Grimes family and friends livid.

“He's just looking for a way out he's looking for a hole. He's trying to find anything he can possibly find for a defense when there is no defense,” Community activist Oliver Gantt said.

Fox 2 has learned Bessner’s partner, Ethan Berger will get his job back after state police fired him.

An arbitrator ruled Thursday that Berger’s termination should be reduced to a suspension.

State police released a statement saying,

“While we are still reviewing the ruling, essentially the arbitrator held that the MSP’s proposed penalty of termination for Ethan Berger shall be reduced to a suspension. To say that we are extremely disappointed with this decision is an understatement. Since the conclusion of the criminal and internal investigations, the department’s position is, and has been, that this member engaged in misconduct worthy of termination. This decision does not change our position; however, we are bound by the decision of the arbitrator. The arbitrator deferred the issue involving the length of the suspension back to the parties for resolution and no decision has yet been made on an appropriate length of suspension.”

During a hearing Friday the prosecution pushed for admitting as evidence statements and video regarding Bessner and his partner’s prior use of tasers.

They will also be allowed to call Bessner’s union rep Jay Morningstar, to testify during the trial.

“If Morningstar counseled the defendant about using a taser only when necessary I believe that is highly relevant to the proceedings and I am going to allow that testimony,” Judge Margaret Van Houten said.

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