(WJBK) - A former Michigan State trooper charged with a Detroit teenager's death took the stand in his own defense Thursday.
"It was a terrible tragedy and all I could think of was that this family had lost their son," Mark Bessner said. "All I could think of is what happens now? What do we do now?"
Former Michigan State Patrolman Mark Bessner, who is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, recounted that deadly day on Aug. 25, 2017 when he tased 15-year-old Damon Grimes as he was riding his ATV on Detroit's east side.
"We were just on normal patrol and suddenly an ATV approaches at a very high rate of speed," he said. "At the very last moment veered hard left and uh almost struck our patrol car."
Bessner says his partner did a U-turn and began chasing Damon along Rossini.
"It was just so abnormal for somebody to flee from us...For somebody to come at us," he said.
Bessner called Damon's behavior abnormal.
"We were behind the ATV and as odd as it was for the ATV to come directly at us ... Then instead of accelerating away from us the ATV slowed and the driver looked back multiple times," he said.
He says he wasn't sure if Damon was taunting them or trying to lure them into a trap.
"Once he had slowed down and he had looked back several times there was one very crystalizing moment where his left hand reached down towards his waist," he said.
Bessner says he saw Grimes reach for his waistband again and that's when he made his decision to act.
"I did the only thing I thought that I could do at the time and this deploy the weapon," he said.
Damon flipped his ATV and crashed into a van. Prosecution questioned Bessner about when he thought his life was in danger.
"When the ATV was first coming up head on that's when red flags raised for me," he said.
"All I can tell you is at the moment that's what I thought. I feared for my safety, I felt for Ethan's safety."