A Missouri state trooper pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor boating violation for handcuffing a college student and leaving him to drown in a lake three years ago.
Brandon Ellingson (pictured) and some friends were on a Spring break boat trip in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in May 2014. Trooper Anthony Piercy stopped them and accused Ellingson, 20, of boating while intoxicated, according to the Daily Beast. Piercy handcuffed Ellingson and put him in the back of his Water Patrol boat and drove off. The boat hit a wave and Ellingson fell into the water. According to the Daily Beast, Piercy didn’t call his supervisor until an hour after Ellingson drowned.
Piercy faces a maximum six months in prison and a $500 fine.
“He’s an evil person,” Ellingson’s father Craig told the Daily Beast on Wednesday. The family reached a $9 million settlement with the state of Missouri in 2016.
Piercy did not adequately put a life jacket on Piercy, family and friends allege. “He tried to pull [it] over his shoulders… and was having a very hard time doing so,” Ellingson’s friend Myles Goertz told investigators, according to the Kansas City Star. “It clearly was not the proper way to wear a life jacket. It was not how the life jacket was designed to be worn.”
The life vest fell off as Ellingson hit the water.
In 2016, a circuit court judge ruled that the state had knowingly violated the state’s Sunshine Law to withhold documents about Ellingson’s death from his family. “These documents could all be considered highly damaging to the [Highway Patrol], and the wrongful nondisclosure of these documents is troubling to the Court,” according to the Kansas Star.