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Handcuffed Suspect Drowns After Falling Off Missouri Highway Patrol Boat

June 03, 2014  | 

The grandmother of an Iowa man who drowned over the weekend at Lake of the Ozarks while under arrest says she was told that the life jacket an officer put on him was not properly secured.

The Missouri Highway Patrol told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Brandon Ellingson, 20, went overboard while being transported from the lake about 5:20 p.m. Saturday after being arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated.

The Highway Patrol said the circumstances of Brandon Ellingson’s drowning are under investigation. A patrol dive team using sonar recovered Ellingson’s body about 11:30 a.m. Sunday at a depth of about 80 feet near where he went in, officials said. The scene is near Gravois Arm, in Morgan County, about 140 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Ellingson was handcuffed behind his back, said Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the patrol. The trooper, Anthony C. Piercy, 42, was driving the 2008 Donzi patrol boat and had put Ellingson in a standard “Level 3” life jacket, which looks like a vest and has three front buckles. Piercy was driving Ellingson to a zone station to give him a breath test.

Ellingson was sitting next to Piercy when suddenly the prisoner stood up, took a few steps to the boat’s right side and went into the water. It is not clear how fast the boat was going or how the life jacket came off.

“He had it on when he entered the water but it came off at some point after he entered the water,” Reinsch said.

Reports say the officers made every attempt to rescue the man. One even jumped in the water and grabbed Ellingson but lost his grip and could not locate him again.

Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

Sam Matthews @ 6/3/2014 3:37 PM

When I served in the Coast Guard we had plenty of incidents involving intoxicated and otherwise illegal boaters. We were EXTREMELY careful and took EXTREME care to make sure that subjects in restraints were properly equipped with PFD's and not able to move around the boat, much less get up and fall or jump overboard. The described incident is a terrible tragedy and is probably going to teach the department a very expensive lesson in professionalism.

Lenny @ 6/3/2014 3:49 PM

@Sam Matthews
Sadly the cops today do not have anywhere near the discipline, accountability, or the professionalism of the Coast Guard. As far as the expense of this incident it cost a civilian
his life, it will cost the tax payers a lot, and cost the department and the officer nothing, as
usual. As far as the cops learning anything from this, you're joking right?
Now, time for all the "suicide by cop" theories. My theory is the kid probably said something that
trooper piercy didn't like and splash. Check for a boot mark to the back.

Chuck @ 6/3/2014 4:24 PM

Your full of shit lenny. To imply that a police officer would deliberately kill someone is very repulsive. So what if the kid did mouth off, I highly doubt the officer would do that. It's not worth throwing away your career. It's a tragic occurrence, and because the man was under the influence of alcohol he did something that he wouldn't normally do. Have you ever dealt wit an individual that was drunk or high lenny, I bet you haven't. Try talking to a wall lenny, your mot gonna get any where

Crash @ 6/3/2014 4:28 PM

Lenny, go troll somewhere else, your comments are never constructive, and betray your lack of emotional control. What basis do you have to compare the professionalism of either organization. This is a tragedy, and if there was any violation of policy, officers will suffer discipline, as well as civil penalties. If you have nothing to contribute but spew your hatred for law enforcement, write a blog.

Capt. Crunch @ 6/4/2014 11:32 AM

@ Hey Troll, get off the site.

Phil306 @ 6/4/2014 2:58 PM

@Chuck, to imply that cops never deliberately kill people is sheer ignorance & BS! Cops don't worry about throwing away their careers! DUH! They investigate themselves! And of course cops are always right and even when they're wrong they're right!

@Lenny- You know these simpletons just can't tolerate a conflicting opinion! They're like little children! Whiners!

Capt. Crunch @ 6/4/2014 7:36 PM

@ Troll and Phil306, Hey guys I have a great idea, why don't the 3 of us go fishing for tuna?

Phil306 @ 6/4/2014 7:49 PM

@Capt Crunch - I'd love to.

Brent @ 6/4/2014 8:09 PM

@Phil306 : Make sure Capt. Crunch puts extra sunscreen on that yellow streak going down his back!

Capt. Crunch @ 6/4/2014 8:37 PM

@ Brent, your invited too. There is always room on the boat for tough guys like you. You might grow some hair on the fishing trip.

Lenny @ 6/4/2014 10:44 PM

@ Capt.
I don't wish to come within bullet range of you, nor do I wish my IQ to drop by half just being in you vicintity. You should watch your comments on here, you know cause of your pending lawsuit with me. I did respond to your latest threats back on the story about the Seattle PD. UOF reforms. Your commentson this site are highly personal and inflammatoy in nature and may even get you banned from this site.
@ Chuck, yes I have indeed dealt with people who were drunk and high
through most of the 70's 80' and 90's they were a blast and I enjoyed myself immensely. Please tell me more about police never deliberately killing anyone. I'm sure if it was between the early70's to the early 90's and I said that Chicago cops were using torture to get confessions I would be getting the BS, yet here we are.
@Crash, I did serve my country proudly, and saw action in our navy. The tragedy of this incident is that nothing will be done, as usual. Three clip vests dont just unclip themselves.

Capt. Crunch @ 6/5/2014 12:06 AM

@ Troll, sorry to hear you cannot make the fishing trip. But I want you to know that I have a air pump on my boat and you would be able to keep your inflatable doll full of air. I just thought I run this by you in case you want to change your mind. The tuna is really biting this year.

Lenny @ 6/7/2014 12:01 AM

Your purile and idiotic comments are simply more evidence of why most crimes go unsolved.

rbl3 @ 6/17/2014 6:43 PM

my buddies and I get off on stories like this, but in reality, I think the officer wasn't paying attention in class, learning how to fasten a life vest, or else the vest had defects, and I tend not believe the latter...hope the family gets every last dime from the water patrol or the life vest manufacturer or both

Chris @ 11/7/2014 6:49 AM

FIrst of all there was only one peace officer on that boat! The improper life vest was shoved over Brandon Ellingson's head, he was not sitting, bolster seats were in the upright position, the boat was traveling at speeds up to 43 miles per hour on a very busy lake with swells that day reaching 2-4 feet! Brandon was ejected from the boat, he did not fall or jump as the MSHP would like everyone to think! That has been their propaganda from almost day one! PIercy did nothing to try and rescue this young man until critical minutes later when witnesses screamed at him to do something, he finally jumped in, never got ahold of Brandon, according to eyewitness never went under the water, SD camera cards were conviently not in the cameras! Piercy never told anyone that Brandon was in handcuffs, training was the least of it, this public servant failed to use the highest degree of care while transporting an in custody detainee!!! Get your facts straight,

Lady Justice @ 12/6/2014 8:49 AM

As I looked into and read about this case further, it sounds like negligent homicide to me and a very poor attempt at a cover up. There were two federal lawsuits filed yesterday. It will be interesting to see if members of the Missouri Highway Patrol admit the cover up or perjure themselves in federal court.

Ron @ 4/3/2015 12:05 PM

This is now being re-visited by a new Special Prosecutor. Charges should be filed. Possibly obstruction of justice along with manslaughter. Possibly more than just the officer directly involved. Cover ups get real messy.

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