A petition calling on the U.S. Attorney General to investigate the death of a 20-year-old Clive man who drowned after falling off a Missouri Water Patrol boat in May now has more than 100,000 signatures.
Matt Boles, the lawyer for the Brandon Ellingson family, says the petition drive was launched by Sherry Henrickson Ellingson, the mother of Brandon Ellingson, “As many people who have lost their loved one want to figure out a way to direct their energies into something positive out of the tragic loss — she decided she wanted to start a petition to see if we could get a federal investigation into the actions of Trooper Tony Piercy, and then also kind of the investigation and the approach of the Missouri Highway Patrol,” Boles says.
He says he is amazed by the number of people who have signed onto the petition. “It started out with a change.org petition, and suddenly it caught wildfire about two weeks ago and it went from about 6,000 signatures to I think about a hundred and three thousand,” Boles says.
Boles says they are still taking signatures. “It’s available for anybody on-line to go and sign at www.change.org,” Boles explains, “justice-for-BrandonEllingson.org (www.justiceforbrandonellingson.org) is the actual link to his site. And it’s amazing the people who have signed from across the country.”
Ellingson was handcuffed and lost his life jacket after he fell into the water while being brought to shore on a charge of boating while intoxicated. A coroner’s inquest found the death was an accident and the Missouri prosecutor announced no charges would be filed. Boles says he is preparing to file a lawsuit in the case, but was waiting until the end of two legislative hearing that dealt with the training given to water patrol officers.
The second hearing was October 14th. “I think the take away from that was, is that there was an issue with regard to training that the leadership of the Missouri Highway Patrol was very coy about in presenting that information to the legislative oversight committee,” Boles says. “Even when pressed by representatives, they were not very forthcoming in presenting that information.”
Bole says he will use information from those hearings along with other information when he files the lawsuit that will says Brand was deprived of his constitutional rights. “The reason it’s brought under that particular provision is because the fact that Trooper Tony Piercy was operating with the full authority of law enforcement and in that capacity, and based upon his negligent action, and his actions while having Brandon in his custody and control, Brandon lost his life,” Boles says.
Brandon Ellingson graduated from West Des Moines Valley High School and was going into his junior year at Arizona State University.