Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Anthony Piercy will spend 10 days in jail, thanks to the negotiated guilty plea that kept a felony off his record and got him two years of probation for the 2014 accidental drowning death of a handcuffed suspect, Brandon Ellingson, 20.
The sentence was pronounced by Judge Roger Prokes in the Morgan County Justice Center last week. Judge Prokes sentenced Piercy to:
*180 day Suspended jail sentence (which means if Piercy doesn’t violate his probation, he will avoid six months in jail)
* 10 days shock time in jail, which will start in the next few days, when Piercy surrenders himself
* 2 years supervised probation
Special Prosecutor William Camm Seay had additionally asked for Piercy’s law enforcement certification to be removed. But Piercy’s attorney Shane Farrow argued such a decision would deprive the trooper of due process, since there is a process for such removal. Judge Prokes agreed.
Normally a road trooper, Piercy was working as a Missouri State Highway Patrol “supplemental trooper” on the water, in 2014 on a busy weekend at Lake of the Ozarks. The weekend after Memorial Day, he arrested Ellingson for allegedly boating while intoxicated. Ellingson fell overboard while Piercy was driving the MSHP boat back to shore for processing. Piercy tried—unsuccessfully—to hook Ellingson with a pole. Then, Ellingson’s life jacket came off; testimony later revealed Piercy had put the lifejacket on incorrectly. Piercy jumped into the water to try and rescue Brandon, but the 20-year-old sank in more than 70 feet of water, and drowned. The Ellingson family won a $9 million settlement from the Missouri State Highway Patrol in late 2016.
Piercy was charged with 1st Degree Involuntary Manslaughter (Class C Felony) in December of 2015 by Seay. But Seay ultimately agreed to a guilty plea that took the felony off the table and left Piercy with a misdemeanor: Negligent Operation of a Vessel. That crime carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. LakeExpo.com reports.