Lake of the Ozarks Drowning Ruled Accidental, No Charges to be Filed Against Trooper
The death of a handcuffed man who drowned after falling overboard from a Missouri State Highway Patrol boat has been ruled accidental, and the trooper involved in the incident will not face criminal charges.
According to the Kansas City Star, a jury deliberated for less than eight minutes Thursday afternoon before deciding that the death of Brandon Ellingson was an accident, not a crime. The patrol has since received a letter from special prosecutor in the case Amanda Grellner, stating that trooper Anthony Piercy will not face criminal charges related to the incident.
In a news release, Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent Colonel Ronald K. Replogle expressed his condolences to Ellingson's family. "First let me say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ellingson family on the loss of their son, Brandon. This was a tragic event and many lives, including the family, officers, and witnesses, have been dramatically affected and changed forever.
Colonerl Replogle stated that all open records regarding the incident will now be made available to the public, and that the Patrol will review its protocol for future incidents, "As with any critical event, I wanted to personally assure the public the Patrol will continue the review of all procedures related to this incident."
Ellingson was arrested and handcuffed May 31 on suspicion of boating while intoxicated at the Lake of the Ozarks. He drowned after falling overboard and losing the life vest trooper Anthony Piercy had placed him in. In court, Ellingson's family had argued that Piercy had not properly secured Brandon in his life jacket. An attorney for the family even went so far as to call the death "100% avoidable," according to the Kansas City Star article.
Piercy has been a trooper for 18 years. He was placed on administrative leave after the accident.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.