Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Missouri to Pay $9 Million to Family of Brandon Ellingson, Who Drowned in Police Custody

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 11:47 AM

The late Brandon Ellingson, right, with his sister Jennifer. - COURTESY OF CRAIG ELLINGSON
  • The late Brandon Ellingson, right, with his sister Jennifer.

The family of a young Iowan who drowned in the custody of the Missouri Highway Patrol will be paid $9 million by the state of Missouri. Brandon Ellingson drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks in May 2014 after being handcuffed on a boat by police — an incident that was the focus of a 2015 RFT cover story.

As the RFT reported, Trooper Anthony Piercy stopped Ellingson's family boat, which the 20-year-old was operating, after seeing a Bud Light can thrown in the water. Piercy placed Ellingson in cuffs, pulled a life vest over his shoulders, and was taking him to shore on suspicion of boating while intoxicated when the trooper's boat apparently hit a patch of wake. As Ellingson was thrown into the water, his life jacket slipped off. Ellingson drowned.

click to enlarge Brandon Ellingson (left, with friend Brody Baumann) at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2012, two years before his tragic drowning death. - COURTESY BRODY BAUMANN
  • Courtesy Brody Baumann
  • Brandon Ellingson (left, with friend Brody Baumann) at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2012, two years before his tragic drowning death.
Ellingson's family filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the trooper was negligent in his duties and that the life jacket was improperly secured. The state of Missouri reached a settlement with the family to the tune of $9 million this week.

"That's a sizable amount of money and it shows they were at fault," Brandon's father, Craig Ellingson, told the Post-Dispatch. "The money was way less than what we wanted, and no amount of money was ever going to bring Brandon back."

Piercy also has a criminal case to contend with, as he has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Piercy's next court date in that case will be Monday. He is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

In their federal suit, the Ellingson family alleged that the Missouri State Highway Patrol had tried to cover up the incident, instead blaming Brandon himself. A sergeant who spoke out about the case found himself demoted and transferred. He reported that Trooper Piercy had admitted to going faster than what he later told authorities — and using the wrong type of life vest.

Brandon's grandmother, Gloria Ellingson, wants to see Piercy behind bars.

"Probably seven years or so," she told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday. "There's so many good cops, but these in Missouri just lied to cover up their lies."

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 28, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation