Friday, December 18, 2015

Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper charged in death of man who drowned in handcuffs


Brandon E. Ellingson
On May 31, 2014, Brandon E. Ellingson was arrested at the Lake of the Ozarks for Boating While Intoxicated by Trooper Anthony Piercy and drowned while in Trooper Piercy’s custody. That same date, the Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control began conducting an investigation into the death. On Aug. 5, 2014, the Patrol completed its investigation and turned over all investigative reports to the Morgan County Coroner. On Aug. 18, 2014, the Morgan County Associate Circuit Court appointed a special prosecutor to review the drowning investigation and the Patrol provided all the investigative reports to the special prosecutor. On Sept. 4, 2014, the Morgan County Coroner conducted a coroner’s inquest, which resulted in Brandon E. Ellingson’s death being classified as accidental and recommended no charges against Trooper Piercy. On Sept. 8, 2014, the Patrol was notified by the special prosecutor that no charges would be filed against Trooper Piercy. On Dec. 15, 2014, the Division of Drug and Crime Control received a request from the special prosecutor to conduct additional interviews and investigation. The Division of Drug and Crime Control completed the follow-up interviews and reports and provided them to the special prosecutor on January 30, 2015. After the first special prosecutor requested to be recused, the Morgan County Associate Circuit Court appointed a second special prosecutor to the case on March 23, 2015.

On March 24, 2015, in response to a request from the second special prosecutor, the Division of Drug and Crime Control provided the case file to that special prosecutor. On Dec. 18, 2015, the second special prosecutor charged Trooper Piercy with involuntary manslaughter, at which time the Patrol put Trooper Piercy on leave without pay.

The charge for which Piercy was arrested is a mere accusation and is not evidence of guilt. Evidence in support of the charges must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

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