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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Ex-state trooper gets prison for teen's Taser crash death

DETROIT (AP) — A former Michigan state trooper was sentenced to at least five years in prison Monday for causing the death of a Detroit teen who crashed an all-terrain vehicle after he was shot with a Taser.

Judge Margaret Van Houten said Mark Bessner, a lawyer and experienced officer, used poor judgment when he fired the immobilizing device from the passenger seat of a moving patrol car. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a second trial in April.

"You abused the public's trust. ... It is the few officers like you who have caused the distrust of police officers that plagues our community in Detroit, the state of Michigan and throughout the country," the judge said.

The maximum penalty is 15 years in prison, but Bessner will be eligible for parole after five. He quit the state police after the August 2017 incident.

Bessner and a partner were patrolling a Detroit neighborhood when Damon Grimes, 15, drove an ATV near their car. The white troopers turned around and pursued the black teen. As they got closer, Bessner fired a Taser, which releases stainless steel barbs.

Grimes crashed into a parked pickup truck and died. Bessner said he believed the boy had a gun in his waistband, but Grimes didn't have a weapon.

Detroit settling case over dead dogs for about $60,000

DETROIT (AP) — The city of Detroit has agreed to pay about $60,000 to settle a lawsuit with the owners of three dogs that were killed during a police raid.

Attorney Christopher Olson said the deal was disclosed in federal court last week but still needs approval from the City Council.

Nikita Smith and Kevin Thomas said their civil rights were violated when three dogs were killed during a search for drugs in 2015. The owners won a key decision last fall when a federal appeals court said they were entitled to due process.

The court said police officers can't "kill every unlicensed dog on the spot," just like they can't immediately destroy an unlicensed car. Detroit police had argued that Debo, a pit bull, and Smoke, a Rottweiler, were aggressive.

$15.5M grant seeks to boost Battle Creek schools, teachers

BATTLE CREEK (AP) — A five-year, $15.5 million grant will seek to help better prepare Battle Creek Public Schools students for careers in science, technology, health care and education.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported the funding announced Monday by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation also will help offer teachers additional support and career pathways.

The grant was awarded to Grand Valley State University, which is partnering with the school district to roll out programs. As part of the effort, GVSU plans to open an outreach center this summer in downtown Battle Creek.

The Battle Creek-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2017 awarded the public school district a $51 million grant to support quality education while attempting to bridge racial and economic divides in the district.

Michigan awards $370K for Ingham County cleanup project

LANSING (AP) — Michigan officials say state funding will help redevelop a contaminated site in Ingham County for construction of a credit union branch.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is awarding a $370,000 brownfield redevelopment grant to the Delhi Charter Township Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for the project.

The site is the former location of a gasoline station. A leaking underground storage tank system contaminated soil and groundwater, which the grant will help pay to remove.

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union plans to build a branch office on the property. Officials say the $5.5 million redevelopment will create 15 jobs.

Delhi Charter Township has approved a brownfield plan to help cover other environmental costs at the site.

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