Handcuffed Man Drowns, State Trooper Pleads Guilty to Boating Violation


A Missouri state trooper pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor boating violation three years after he handcuffed a college student and left him to drown in a lake.

Brandon Ellingson and his friends were celebrating the start of summer break with a boating trip in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in May 2014. But as he and his friends were leaving the dock one afternoon, trooper Anthony Piercy stopped them and accused Ellingson, 20, of boating while intoxicated. Piercy handcuffed Ellingson, placed him in the back of his Water Patrol boat, and sped off. The boat was traveling 46 miles per hour when it hit a wave, flinging the handcuffed young man into the water. Piercy called his supervisor an hour after Ellingson drowned.

Piercy faces a maximum six months in prison and a $500 fine for Ellingson’s death. Ellingson’s family says it’s the closest they’ll get to justice.

“He’s an evil person,” Ellingson’s father Craig told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “The reason we decided to go to the plea deal was it was tainted down there,” in Morgan County, Missouri’s court system.

The family also reached a $9 million settlement with the state of Missouri in November 2016. “We weren’t going to go through that again,” Craig said of the two-year ordeal.

The family had to fight to learn even the basic facts of their son’s death. Four months after Ellingson drowned, a local coroner ruled his death an accident, despite testimony from Ellingson’s friends who described Piercy as negligent.

After Piercy cuffed Ellingson, he tried pulling a life vest over Ellingson’s cuffed arms, instead of choosing another available life vest that allowed a person to wear handcuffs.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3179 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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