CLIVE, Iowa -- A Missouri State Trooper charged in a Clive man's death pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor boating violation, just weeks before his trial in the drowning of Brandon Ellingson. Anthony Piercy pleading guilty to negligent operation of a vessel is the best outcome that could have been realistically hoped for in this situation, says Brandon Ellingson's father Craig.
"We really had no other options. I felt if we did a jury trial, that the jury pool was tainted. His wife`s a teacher down there. He`s a cop. He was on the school board..."
Piercy could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, but Piercy`s lawyer asked that if anything more than probation is recommended by authorities that Piercy be allowed to withdraw his plea.
"If he doesn`t like his sentence that he gets at sentencing, he can withdraw his guilty plea, which I guess, I`ve never heard of that, but that`s a new one to me," said Ellingson.
On May 31, 2014, Piercy arrested Brandon (who was 20 years old) on the Lake of the Ozarks, on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. Witnesses told authorities that the trooper then stuffed an already-buckled life vest over Brandon's head. It was the wrong vest for a handcuffed person. As Piercy took Brandon to a field office for testing, Brandon was ejected from the boat. The life vest that Piercy placed on Brandon, which was not properly secured, came off and he drowned.
"He was only supposed to be out there to be seen, and navigating from point A to point B, not arresting people, and being a cowboy and taking them in for breathalyzers," said Ellingson.
While Craig feels he has not received justice for his son, he did get an admission from Piercy.
"He (Brandon) didn`t jump and that`s what I wanted to hear, so he was doing 46 miles an hour, hit a seven foot wake, slowed down to nothing and hit that wake and crashed and Brandon just shot out of there like a canon, you know," said Ellingson. That`s what I wanted to hear him (Piercy) say, he was guilty of that, you know. And that`s good enough for me. God will take care of the rest."