Statewide GOP surge, trooper cries on stand, pot dispensaries: Your Friday morning briefing

Gretchem Whitmer shakes hands with Bill Schuette during a recent debate.

“Morning Briefing” is a new feature in Motor City Muckraker to keep you informed as we add award-winning reporters to our independent newsroom that soon will be a nonprofit watchdog. Your donations are key to our ability to produce more vigorous, meaningful, nonpartisan journalism at a time when news rooms are cutting back on impactful, investigative stories.

These are the top stories you’re waking up to:

Republicans gain ground in race for governor, SOS and attorney general

Republicans are gaining ground in the race for governor, secretary of state and attorney general as President Trump’s approval ratings increase.

A Free Press poll of 600 likely voters found that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer’s lead over Bill Schuette has fallen from 11 points to 5 points over the past month.

In the attorney general race, Democrat Dana Nessel’s six-point lead last month has vanished, and she’s now in a dead heat with Republican Tom Leonard.

The secretary of state race also has tightened, with Democrat Jocelyn Benson holding a 4-point lead over Republican Mary Treder Lang. Last month, Benson led Lang by 9 points.

In the past month, Trump’s approval rating increased from 40%  to 43%.

State trooper cries while testifying about fatal crash involving Taser

Former state trooper Mark Bressner.

The former state trooper charged in the death of a Detroit teenager broke down on the witness stand Thursday.

Mark Bressner violated police protocol by tasering Damon Grimes while he was riding an ATV, causing the 15-year-old to crash into the back of a truck on the city’s east side.

During his testimony, Bressner claimed the ATV was “coming right at us” and that he feared for his safety, believing Grimes was armed.

“It was a deadly force situation and I used the tool I had available to me,” Bressner said.

Asked whether he believed the use of a Taser was justified, Bressner responded, “I thought it was at the time. It was a terrible situation.”

Closing arguments will resume Monday before the jury deliberates.

First ‘legal’ marijuana dispensary debuts in Detroit

Healing Tree in Detroit became the first dispensary Thursday to begin selling marijuana under a new state law that legalized the sale of medical cannabis from a business.

“We are extremely proud to have achieved this milestone first and would like to thank and recognize our staff in this historical moment,” Advain Oraha, Healing Tree’s general manager, told The News Herald. “We’re known for having team members that are very educated in the products they sell. We offer something for everybody. We are excited to serve our existing and new patients.”

More than 100 dispensaries in Detroit had sold medical marijuana to licensed cardholders for several years, but the law was unclear about the legality of cannabis shops, and police occasionally raided the businesses

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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.