Protesters demand justice for death of tasered 15-year-old in Detroit

Protesters rallied outside of the Detroit Police headquarters downtown on Friday afternoon to call attention to the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes. All photos by Steve Neavling.

Damon Grimes didn’t have to die so young.

The 15-year-old was illegally driving an ATV on Detroit’s east side last weekend when a state trooper tasered him for fleeing, causing the teenager to run over a curb and crash into a parked pickup truck at Rossini and Gratiot. Grimes died a local hospital on Saturday.

The trooper, who previously was sued twice for alleged excessive force, was suspended with pay for violating protocol for using a Taser on the operator of a moving vehicle.

More than 50 protesters rallied peacefully outside of Detroit Police Headquarters in downtown on Friday afternoon, calling for a timely and thorough investigation into a death that prompted state police to prohibit troopers in Detroit from pursuing vehicles in which the driver is accused of committing a traffic violation or misdemeanor offense.

Detroit and state police are conducting separate investigations to determine whether the trooper should be charged.

“This is the beginning of a bigger and greater demonstration that we are going to have all over Detroit,” Rev. W.J. Rideout told protesters as police looked on. “We’re going to be united in the city of Detroit.”

Protesters, some of whose children were killed by police in the past, chanted “No justice, no peace” and held signs that read “Justice 4 Damon Grimes” and “Black Lives Matter.”

“We’re going to keep the movement going,” Rev. David Alexander Bullock said.

At the end of the demonstration, some of the protesters met with Detroit Police Chief James Craig outside the headquarters to express concerns about police brutality.

Craig, who was surrounded by police for protection, responded that his department prohibits aggressive action against driver who are fleeing if they are accused of traffic violations or misdemeanors. He added that if a Taser was used during the pursuit that “we’re talking about the possibility of a criminal act.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig meets with someone of the protesters.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.