Drunk driving

Missouri Man Drowns While Handcuffed During Boat Arrest: Couple Says Didn't See Trooper Help, Weren't Questioned for Inquest

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Brandon Ellingson
family photo

In May, 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson drowned while handcuffed after being arrested for boating under the influence on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. On Thursday, an inquest jury ruled Ellingson's death an accident, after eight minutes of deliberation.

The jury heard from the trooper who arrested Ellingson, Anthony Piercy, two other people from the highway patrol and one witness, according to the Kansas City Star, but not from a couple, Larry and Paulette Moreau, who said they witnessed Piercy talking to Ellingson after he went overboard. That couple was interviewed, separately and on different days, by a highway patrol investigator but not for the inquest.

Via the Star:

Moreau said Piercy eventually let his boat coast right up to Ellingson, who bumped into the boat and slid along it.

Piercy went to the side of the boat and looked at the man in the water. "He could have reached down and slapped him," Moreau said.

Then the trooper went to the back of the boat. "He bent down, put his hands on his knees, looking down at him. Looked to me like he was standing there talking to him. … As he was leaning over talking to him, the boat is still drifting. The whole time, Brandon is getting farther from the boat.

"The whole thing was, there was no urgency. The officer was never running, waving his arms, saying help him. Nothing. His lights were never on. There was no sense of urgency whatsoever."

The Moreaus were at least 150 feet away. They said they didn't move closer because they were afraid they would create a wake that would cause more trouble.

"We were sitting there, engine idling, watching this whole thing to see if anyone needed assistance," Moreau said. "We were close enough, if we knew this boy was handcuffed, we could have helped him.

The trooper put the wrong kind of life jacket on Ellingson, and it separated from him. At the inquest he blamed inadequate training, saying the incident, in which Ellingson drowned, made him realize he was "vulnerable." He said he would prefer to be back on the highways—Gov. Jay Nixon (D) merged the state's highway and waterway law enforcement agencies three years ago. Ellingson had been placed under arrest for boating while intoxicated. The witness who testified at the inquest said Piercy jumped in to save Ellingson.

When Moreau first heard Ellingson had drowned, he thought it was "impossible for that to happen" based on what he had seen. He and his wife did not start to make public statements until after Ellingson's death was ruled an accident last week. A special prosecutor is now deciding whether to charge Piercy.

h/t Thomas K.

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  1. Damned racist cops!

  2. What the actual living fuck.

    1. RTFA for even more nutpunches.

  3. A special prosecutor is now deciding whether to charge Piercy.

    Sure.

    1. When I went to school, the “special” children were the retards.

      Probably works the same with special prosecutors.

      1. An *exceptional* special prosecutor.

  4. See, I could see riots over this more than I could see riots over the possibility of the extrajudicial killing of a robber (an accusation which hasn’t been proven).

    Not that I would condone rioting in either case, but really, rioters seem not to have any consistent principles or standards for what sets them off.

    1. Because the riots aren’t nearly as much about the triggering event as the powder keg status of the rioting population. I don’t know if you read Balko’s piece about St. Louis but I did and my take away was that a riot was probably long overdue.

      1. It’s not the only riot that’s long overdue.

      2. Yeah, this. Some places you will never see a riot. Riots are not rational reactions to events.

  5. I wouldn’t mind if we brought back lynching for lying murderous cops. Just sayin..

    1. I mean, I don’t think you need permission to lynch unless I’m mustaken on what lynching is…

  6. Can you arrest a boat? Also, what are the best beaches in Missouri?

    1. Also, do the new reason-staffers have an ongoing competition for “most inscrutable, poorly-worded headline”

      1. You know, back when Postrel was here, the headlines were usually very clever (e.g., How Much is that Dodgy Innuendo).

        1. Good thread, our old friend Joe (God rest him) is whining about military action in the middle east.

  7. “We could have saved him. It’s disheartening that if this guy didn’t know what he was doing, why didn’t he ask for help? And even if he thought he did know what he was doing, the life jacket was off the kid.”

    They never ask for help from civilians.

    Piercy’s patrol boat had cameras, but the digital card that records video was not in the boat that day. Piercy told jurors at the inquest that he realized earlier in his shift, before he pulled Ellingson’s boat over, that the card had been removed by another trooper to download data. Piercy continued working without it.

    Fortunately for him.

    1. Piercy told jurors at the inquest that he realized earlier in his shift, before he pulled Ellingson’s boat over, that the card had been removed by another trooper to download data.

      “I’ll ‘download’ yours if you ‘download’ mine.”

    2. … that the card had been removed by another trooper to download data.

      See? Proof that our police are way underfunded. They can’t even afford a second digital card.

  8. The best part is that of the three camera’s mounted on the police boat no recording exists because all the memory cards were missing/not installed.

  9. Another alcohol-related fatality. When will people learn?

  10. who is the witness that saw Piercy jump in to save him?

  11. Have any of these guys considered running for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts?

  12. If the couple had tried to help, there would be three dead bodies instead of one.

  13. Jesus fucking Christ. Really? Yeah, really.

    Fuck tha poe lease. Fer reelz.

  14. Martyrs for the cause? Every time something like this happens, are a few more unconverted? Prior, I imagine the family, friends, acquaintances of this guy were Worshipers. Maybe the Team has lost a few fans?

  15. Then the trooper went to the back of the boat. “He bent down, put his hands on his knees, looking down at him. Looked to me like he was standing there talking to him. ? As he was leaning over talking to him, the boat is still drifting. The whole time, Brandon is getting farther from the boat.

    Just allow me to imagine…

    “Son, you just fucked yourself real good. Ya see, you fallin’ in the water? Well, that’s a damn shame for you. Shouldn’t a been drinkin’ so much. Now, I could save you. Wouldn’t take me a damn bit of trouble. But you see, I’ve never watched a man drown before. I wonder what it’ll look like. I see it in your eyes now, son. You’re beginnin’ to realize you shouldn’t ‘ve called me ‘Pig’ back there aren’t you? What’s that? Can’t talk? Well that’s too bad, ’cause I can’t hear you cry for help. Damn shame, that.”

  16. At the inquest he blamed inadequate training

    “How was I to know I was supposed to pull him out of the water?”

    Fucking hell.

  17. If they really want to blame it on the training, shouldn’t they charge whoever was in charge of training with murder? How does “inadequate training” translate to “no one is at fault”? The joys of government work, I guess.

  18. Depraved indifference is a requirement for being a cop.

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