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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • No answers forthcoming in handcuffed drowning of Brandon Ellingson

  • Questions surrounding the death of a 20-year-old college student who drowned while handcuffed in the custody of the Missouri State Highway Patrol remain unanswered nearly two months after the incident occurred.
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  • Questions surrounding the death of a 20-year-old college student who drowned while handcuffed in the custody of the Missouri State Highway Patrol remain unanswered nearly two months after the incident occurred.
    Officials with the highway patrol have declined to answer questions about what happened on May 31 when Brandon Ellingson drowned until the investigation is completed. When that might be is unknown. At this time, the highway patrol will only confirm that it is an ongoing investigation.
    In response to a Missouri Sunshine Law request filed by the Lake Sun, the highway patrol declined to provide documents related to the investigation report. In a letter signed by Lt. Keverne L. McCollum, custodian of records, a state statute was cited that says "investigative reports of all law enforcement agencies are closed records until the investigation becomes inactive."
    McCollum reported there was no final report on the arrest and drowning.
    The investigation is handled by the Missouri Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control. The DDCC is the investigative branch of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the highway patrol.
    Ellingson was placed under arrest on suspicion of Boating While Intoxicated on May 31 following a routine stop for an unknown violation.. Ellingson was handcuffed behind his back, placed on a Water Division boat and was being taken to the shore when the incident occurred. The lifejacket the arresting officer had placed on him came off once he went in the water. The original accident report said Ellingson fell or jumped overboard.
    Ellingson's body was recovered on June 1, near the 3.5 mile marker of the Gravois Arm of Lake of the Ozarks in about 80 feet of water.
    Ellingson, a college student from Clive, Iowa, was attending Arizona State University at the time of his death. Ellingson was spending the weekend at the lake with friends.
    The officer in charge of the arrest, Anthony Piercy, 42, was temporarily placed on leave but returned to duty within 10 days of the drowning.
    Ellingson had not been given an official breathalyzer. Those are done once the arresting officer and the subject are on land.
    According to the information released when the incident occurred, at one point prior to Ellingson going overboard, he allegedly stood up on the boat. Piercy told him to sit back down. Ellingson allegedly walked to the back of the boat and went overboard.
    Attempts by the officer to rescue Ellingson were unsuccessful.
    Standard procedure for transporting a suspect on the water is for a lifejacket to be put on first and then handcuffs. Under normal circumstances, officers will place the suspect on the seat next to them for transport.
    Ellingson was wearing a level three vest type of life vest with three snaps on the front. If it was fastened correctly and how it came off in the water is part of the investigation.
    Page 2 of 2 - Piercy was the only officer on the boat. He has been with the Missouri Highway Patrol for 18 years and was trained to work on the water in March 2013. Piercy normally works on the road but was placed on the water this particular weekend since the water division expected large crowds. He was placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. He was back on duty by June 10.

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