VERSAILES, Missouri – A jury has ruled the death of a Clive man while in custody of the the Missouri State Highway Patrol was accidental.
Brandon Ellingson, 20, drowned in May in the Lake of the Ozarks while in custody of a Missouri State trooper. Ellingson was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. He was being moved across the lake on a state patrol boat when he fell or jumped into the water. Ellingson was handcuffed and wearing a life vest, but he slipped out of the jacket.
During a coroner’s inquest Thursday, a jury ruled that the death was accidental.
Trooper Anthony Piercy originally reported that Ellingson either fell or jumped out of the boat. On Thursday, another trooper testified they don’t know how Ellingson got in to the water.
There were also questions raised about Trooper Piercy’s training. Piercy testified that he received several weeks of training but added he still didn’t have as much training as he thought he should have.
Witnesses testified Piercy did everything he could to save Ellingson, eventually jumping in the water himself, but Ellingson slipped through his arms.
Troopers also confirmed none of the three cameras on board the boat were working and Piercy knew it when he went out on patrol.
The coroner says toxicology tests showed cocaine and alcohol in Ellingson`s blood. An attorney for the Ellingson family says that’s even more reason the trooper should have properly secured Brandon.
“Had he done what he was trained to do, Brandon Ellingson would be alive,” says attorney Matt Boles.