Brandon Ellingson’s Father Calls for More Investigation into Son’s Death

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Clive father says a coroner’s inquest into his son’s death on the Lake of the Ozark’s was a “joke.”

Twenty-year-old Brandon Ellingson drowned last May while in the custody of a Missouri State Trooper patrolling the water.

After deliberating for about five minutes Thursday, the jury decided Ellingson’s death was an accident and the officer should not be held criminally responsible. But numerous questions remain about Ellingson’s death and the investigation itself.

Trooper Anthony Piercy handcuffed Ellingson around 5:30 p.m. for alleged boating while intoxicated. Ellingson somehow fell out of the boat while Piercy was transporting him to shore. Though a life jacket had been put on Ellingson it appears it wasn’t secured properly and it fell off when he hit the water.

Piercy jumped in the water but was unable to save Ellingson.

About 9:45 p.m., the Missouri State Patrol contacted Brandon’s father, Craig.

“Proceeded to tell me the boat had capsized.  Piercy was the driver.  Brandon was tossed out and drowned,” Craig says.

Meanwhile, the young men who’d been boating with Brandon were still waiting for their friend. As part of the investigation, the Missouri State Patrol interviewed them. According to transcripts officers told them ,“Brandon had gotten aggressive and that we could get him in the morning… this is what happens when your friends get aggressive.”

The friends say they were relieved to know Brandon was still alive.

But at that point, Brandon had been dead for roughly four hours.

We asked Brandon’s father if he knew the officers lied about that. He responded, “Yah, they’ve never brought any of this stuff out, so this is why it needs to be uncovered and investigated a lot further.”

Based on Craig Ellingson’s account, that wasn’t the only lie. The patrol boat didn’t capsize and he says his son wasn’t aggressive. He wants a multi-tiered investigation, starting with Anthony Piercy, the officer who arrested Brandon.

“That’s pretty sad to know that you’re paying someone money to go out and protect people and he doesn’t know how to use his equipment,” says Craig.

Piercy testified Thursday he wasn’t trained on how to use the life jackets. That’s backed up by Grandon’s friends, who described how Piercy placed the life jacket on Brandon.

“I would describe it as tubing it over him. He basically just stuck Brandon’s head through the head hole and just pulled it down so it was resting on his shoulders,” says a friend. “It went right above probably his lower ribs… I mean, it wasn’t fully on him.”

Some allege training requirements became lax when Missouri’s State Troopers started patrolling the water three years ago. It was an attempt to save money, but Craig Ellingson wonders if it cost his son his life.

He says, “Hopefully they’ll change their laws so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”


  • mike norris

    And you are an idiot. Dont post comments like this unless you have the courage to attach your real name instead of some childish internet user name.

  • Jake Rosander

    Dear Joe’s Pinky Finger,

    I am sorry that none of these events stated in the video above have directly effected you or your family as it has Brandon’s. As a former teammate of his I would like to inform you drugs and alcohol say nothing his character and who he is (yes, I say “is” and not “was”) as a person. The love he has shown everyone he has ever known throughout his life is nothing that I feel you could ever comprehend, I assume based upon your comment above, if anything I feel you could better comprehend the fact that you are just as ignorant to post something like you did as the Missouri State Patrol was so ignorant and childish (which you are as well) to try and lie about what happened. Please think about how your actions effect others before trying to give your personal opinion, REGARDLESS of what you have to say.

    Thank You,

    Jake Rosander

    Oh and by the way, I’m using my real name, I suggest you do as well.

  • Hope

    There is plenty of blame to go around for all involved. It’s perfectlly natural for a parent to want to place blame. Even though the arresting officer may or may not of used a correct life jacket, the young man involved put his life and those of the thousands of boaters on the lake that day when he chose to get drunk and do cocaine and then operate a boat. This day could of resulted in an entire family dying. So let’s look at all involved and keep an open mind.

    • Sorry Brandon you came to Missouri

      Except Hope, nobody died except for Mr. Ellingson. While he may not have been an angel, the cover up mentality of Missouri police agencies is an epidemic. Falsified police reports are an expectation among LEO’s in Missouri.

  • someone whoes heart goes out to the family

    I agree with I am Joes pinky finger. when will people start being responsible for their actions. I am sorry this young man lost his life but he shouldn’t of been under the influence of what he was and should of been more responsible. Just because they can play sports well and are nice people still doesn’t take the fact away he should not of been under the influence

    • Disgusted

      So the next time you have a beer, it is acceptable that a cop is responsible for your demise? The coroner is the town vet. Don’t believe everything you read. Have you any education at all?

      • what the

        the next time I have “A” beer, I don’t think my blood alcohol will be .26. He is also to accept some of the blame for this accident.

  • Get outside assistance for any hope.

    This is very sad. I live at the lake and I would have to agree that although he was under the influence, he was taken into custody, handcuffed and had a life jacket improperly placed upon him. I don’t believe for one second the officer was doing appx. 10 mph. They zip around this lake like no bodies business just as everyone else does. I would be more apt to believe that when the officer saw him standing, he threw it into neutral or significantly slowed down which everyone knows, causes one to loose balance and most likely threw him over. I’ve seen it happen a few times with sober adults. This young man was under the influence and already “off balance” from that, to what degree we don’t know, but he was ultimately the responsibility of the officer. The fact of the matter is that if the life jacket would have been properly placed, he would not have drowned. Being cuffed removes the ability to use his hands and arms ultimately, preventing him or anyone from swimming in the case he were thrown overboard or a accident were to happen. Common sense is common sense. If you don’t know the importance of proper life jacket fit and how in must be worn, you have no business being on the water and never should be responsible for anyone else. My daughters knew how they needed to wear their jackets at 3 & 4 years old. What a lame excuse. What happened is due to lack of common sense and/or initiative do take the time and do it properly. My advise to the family…find someone from outside the area to investigate this. Going through local channels will get you no where fast. I don’t condone this young mans actions, but there are very few of us that can say you never made stupid decisions when you were younger and many of them involved putting someone else in danger. Most everyone still does this as an adult. Have a few drinks, drive yourself and family home…sick. I don’t care how many times you’ve drove that mile, you never know! As far as I see it, he has more of a excuse than they do just because of his age and not fully comprehending what those actions bring. This young man could have, but DIDN’T kill anyone. The officer who arrested him however, DID. There was no excuse for improper jacket placement. It’s not a condom, it’s a life jacket…used to save a life, not prevent one.

  • RIP

    Absolute negligence by Anthony Piercy, but he will not be held accountable. Fact is, one need only look at the comments persons like Joes Pinky Finger and Hope, to understand why charges are never brought against officers. Folks like this will never understand until it happens to them. RIP Christopher Cooper (killed at 17 by Missouri officers who ran him over while riding his bike. He was an innocent bystander as officers pursued someone else. Officers on tape laughing over the body calling him a “cockroach”. Saying he was not worth calling an ambulance for. Listen to the audio and you can hear him gurgling pleas for help.”)

  • corrupt cops should be in general population

    typical pig liar. by the statements and actions coming out after his discipline was decided it should be enough to re-open the investigation into this mans murder by this pig. he lied about so many things but the worst was when he said he was going slow and the gps shows him going 43 miles an hour, on the water. way too fast for a handcuffed person to stabilized themselves in a moving boat. incompetent and still allowed to keep his job. is he still on a boat? he didn’t even know which side starboard was. which if you’re not a boater is fine, but he was a boat cop. with no marine training? hope this pig gets jacked up on his job for this. murderers go to jail, not back to work. he had custody of this individual, he was responsible for his life. period.

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