US Taser death teen's relatives settle with police for $12m

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Close-up of a Taser gun being firedImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The teen hit a parked truck after being stunned by a Taser

The family of a 15-year-old US boy who died after a police officer stunned him with a Taser gun have settled their wrongful death case for $12m (£9.1m).

Damon Grimes was driving a quad bike when he died in Detroit in 2017. He was being pursued by police after he allegedly refused to pull over.

After being stunned, the teen slammed into the back of a parked truck.

His family took legal action against the Michigan State Police, which has now settled the case out of court.

Court documents filed on Friday show that under the settlement, Damon Grimes' family would receive some $7.8m - with the balance of the settlement covering legal and other costs. The settlement must still be approved by a judge.

The police officer who stunned Damon, Mark Bessner, was first suspended and later resigned.

Bessner was sentenced to at least five years in jail after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter earlier this year. He was cleared of second-degree murder.

Tasers fire two small dart-like electrodes before delivering a high-voltage shock to temporarily disable a suspect. It is intended to be non-lethal, allowing officers to deal with violent or potentially violent people at a distance.

In a statement, Michigan State Police spokeswoman Lori Dougovito said: "Damon Grimes' death is a tragedy that could have been avoided if not for the criminal and unforgivable actions of a former MSP trooper".

Ethan Berger, who was driving the patrol car when Bessner fired the Taser, has also since resigned.

"I am sad for the family; no amount of money is going to make up for it," attorney for the family, Geoffrey Fieger, told the Detroit Free Press.

"But it's a substantial enough of a settlement that it really sends a message to the citizens and the police that this kind of behaviour is intolerable."

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Media caption,

Officer under scrutiny for Tasing girl