A former Missouri State Patrol trooper who criticized the handling of the department’s investigation into the 2014 death of an Iowa man says the charges brought in the case Friday are a start, but more charges should be filed.
Missouri State Trooper Anthony Piercy has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the drowning 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson of Clive at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Retired Patrol Sergeant Randy Henry questioned the handling of the investigation, which initially led to no charges again Piercy. The case was reopened with a new prosecutor after the former prosecutor said there was new evidence.
“I feel relieved for the family, I hope this bring some type of, not closure, there’ll never be full closure with their son. But some sense of relief that the system may actually work as far as bringing justice for the individual who caused the death of their son,” Henry says.
Piercy took Ellingson into custody for suspicion of boating while intoxicated. He handcuffed Ellingson’s hands behind his back and did not properly secure his life jacket. Ellingson fell out of a patrol boat and rescue attempts were unsuccessful. Henry says trooper Piercy recklessly caused the death of Ellingson.
“Just because you are a trooper, doesn’t mean that you are above the law,” Henry says. “I think the announcement clearly signifies that police officers are not above the law.” Henry says there should be more charges filed in the case.
“I don’t think it went far enough, I would like to see some obstruction of justice charges against the command staff that orchestrated the cover up,” Henry says.
Henry says there should be an independent investigation done on the patrol’s handling of Ellingson’s case. Henry was demoted after questioning the handling of the case and the training of troopers for the water patrol. He later retired.
Ellingson’s family has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Missouri Highway Patrol of negligence. Piercy turned himself in and was released on bond.
Alisa Nelson of Missourinet contributed to this story along with Dar Danielson of Radio Iowa.