UPDATE July 17, 2018:

The state of Missouri has revoked the peace officer license of a former highway patrol trooper who was driving a patrol boat when a handcuffed Iowa man fell out and drowned, WDAF-TV reports.

Anthony Piercy's license was permanently revoked after the Missouri Department of Public Safety reviewed evidence in the death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson, of Clive, Iowa.

Piercy's lawyer, Tim Van Ronzelen, said Tuesday he will appeal the license revocation.


UPDATE Dec. 16, 2017: The Missouri State Highway Patrol has terminated the employment of Anthony Piercy, ABC 17 KMIZ-TV reports.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. John Hotz confirmed the decision to the station Friday.

ABC 17 News obtained this email sent to Ellingson's father Friday, from the highway patrol:

Mr. Ellingson:

On December 11, 2017, I convened a Procedural Hearing Board to conduct a hearing related to administrative charges brought against Trooper Anthony C. Piercy. The charges brought against Trooper Piercy are directly related to the death of your son, Brandon Ellingson. The board concluded that Trooper Piercy violated the policies of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and that his actions warranted discipline. The final decision regarding discipline of Patrol employees rests with me. Therefore, I am informing you Trooper Piercy's employment with the Missouri State Highway Patrol was terminated effective December 15, 2017.

Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, Superintendent


October 30, 2017

Crime Watch Daily was with a family in Missouri as they and our cameras finally camera face to face with the state trooper they say was responsible for their son's death.

A party, a speedboat, an arrest and a really good young man dead at the bottom of the lake. We've tracked down the careless cop who killed him.

A dramatic new development in a story Crime Watch Daily has been following closely.

Brandon Ellingson, 20, died while in the custody of a man who was sworn to protect and serve. Now that officer finds himself on the other side of the law, leaving a grieving father to confront the man responsible for his son's death.


Brandon Ellingson was a handsome, strapping 20-year-old All-American college student, a champion football player and beloved son.

Brandon and five high school buddies reunited for a sun-drenched weekend of boating and beers at Brandon's house on Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, on Memorial Day Weekend 2014.

"That day he had been out at a restaurant that we went to all the time," said Brandon's mother Sherry Ellingson. "They were in the pool."

Yet under the clear blue sky, trouble was looming on the picturesque lake.

"I had been down there a week before and I noticed that the Water Patrol was all over the place," said Craig Ellingson, Brandon's father. "It just looked like they were looking to write up tickets. So anyway, when he was going down I let him know that he needed to really watch out for that."

Sure enough, as the guys leave the bar with plans for Brandon to operate the boat, Missouri Highway Patrol Officer Anthony Piercy swiftly zeroes in. Friends believe Piercy was just waiting to pounce.

"Tony Piercy has spent the afternoon basically staking out this place looking out for somebody to pull over," said Sherry.

And it didn't take long. Within minutes of leaving the restaurant, with Brandon behind the wheel Trooper Piercy busts him on suspicion of boating while intoxicated.

"Brandon took charge when we got pulled over and told us to just chill out 'cause everything is going to be fine," said Brandon's friend Brandon Bever.

No, it wasn't.

The arrest was photographed by one of Brandon's friends. Trooper Piercy first does a field test, then puts Brandon in handcuffs and throws a life vest over his arms, and handcuffs his hands behind his back. That would turn out to be a fatal mistake. Piercy never put Brandon's arms through the vest.

"His hands were handcuffed from behind, so he had no mobility. It was like he was in a straitjacket," said Craig Ellingson.

Brandon's friends say Piercy then quickly speeds off with Brandon in custody. While racing along the lake's surface, Brandon is sitting in the right front seat, his hands cuffed behind his back and his feet off the ground. Then, according to Piercy, his patrol boat hit another boat's wake. The impact is so strong that Brandon flies overboard. And Piercy radios headquarters, saying Brandon may have jumped.

"I can't say 100 percent for sure if he did it on purpose or if it was the wake," said Piercy.

When Brandon hit the water, his life vest slipped off. Since Officer Piercy never put Brandon's arms through the vest, it floats to the surface -- but Brandon starts sinking. His hands are still cuffed behind his back as he desperately kicks to keep his head above water.

"He treaded water for three to four minutes," said Craig Ellingson.

Trooper Piercy claims he tried to save Brandon Ellingson. In fact he radios in moments after it became clear his rescue attempt failed. This was now a body recovery.

Piercy: "I'm sore from treading water with the bastard. But I've just been spent. [----], I feel like I just ran a marathon."

A short time later his parents get the call no one ever wants to hear. But that gut-wrenching news is just the beginning of a family's nightmare. Crime Watch Daily's Columbia, Missouri affiliate KMIZ uncovered a sonar image showing Brandon's lifeless body 80 feet down.

Heartbreak turns to absolute outrage when an audio recording is released. Just listen how other officers callously joke about retrieving Brandon's body.

Officer: "His dad is seven kinds of pissed off that we're not gonna dive tonight."

Dispatcher: "Yeah, well."

Officer: "And I wanted to tell him, he's not going to be anymore dead in the morning then he is right now."

Dispatcher: "Ha ha ha ha."

Brandon Ellingson's family has fought for years to have the state trooper driving the boat that day thrown in prison. And Crime Watch Daily was there as the judge made his stunning decision.

Craig Ellingson, a broken-hearted father, squares off in court with the careless cop who killed his son Brandon.

"Anthony Piercy, it has been three and a half years that I've waited to tell you face to face that you're the reason why my son is dead," Ellingson said in court.

While hauling Brandon Ellingson in, Piercy claims he hit boat wake and Brandon flipped out of the boat still handcuffed. Brandon plummeted to the bottom of the lake and died. Piercy called it a terrible accident.

"You don't cover up if there's an accident," said Sherry Ellingson, Brandon's mother.

Brandon's parents aren't the only ones screaming "cover-up."

"We killed Brandon Ellingson," said Sgt. Randy Henry, who used to work the same beat as Piercy did.

In fact he was Trooper Piercy's supervisor at one time. He bravely came forward, risking his job to expose what he calls a cover-up in Brandon's death.

The alleged cover-up, starts with a radio call from Piercy to another officer claiming he was driving the patrol boat at a safe speed.

"I wasn't going real fast 'cause it was real choppy. I'm guessing 15-20, no more than that,'" Piercy says.

But the patrol boat GPS records tell a different story: Data reveal he hit speeds of up to 46 miles per hour while Brandon was in custody.

And the reason Piercy was speeding? It's hard to believe, and makes Brandon's tragic death senseless. Sgt. Henry says he thinks it's because the more tickets a trooper writes, the better it looks on his record.

"I think this was all about Tony Piercy tying to make a name for himself so he can get promoted," said Craig Ellingson.

After the initial investigation, amazingly, Piercy is given just a five-day suspension. Six months after Brandon's death, his parents file a civil lawsuit against Officer Anthony Piercy and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. They're awarded millions of dollars. But that's not enough.

"The most important thing to me is that this man never ever gets a job in law enforcement again," said Sherry.

Finally, in December 2015, a special prosecutor charged Piercy with involuntary manslaughter. That charge was dropped after Piercy agreed to plead guilty to negligent operation of a vehicle -- the boat.

Then at sentencing, the moment the Ellingsons have waited years for. The judge hands down the sentence. But it's another blow to a family who has already endured so much pain.

"The judge decided that it warranted 10 days in a county jail at his leisure; 200 days of supervised parole; and 50 hours of community service for killing my son," Sherry said.

Piercy officially remains a licensed state trooper on the force. At the sentencing he told the court that "Nothing he can say would make things better."

"I am truly sorry for that. Brandon should be here with them today," Piercy said in court.

"I haven't heard yet that he's taken responsibility for his actions that day," Sherry said.

But Crime Watch Daily did track down Tony Piercy to see what he has to say about the sentence. He declined to comment.

Now, as a final step in Brandon's memory, the Ellingsons will work to get Piercy's trooper's state license revoked.

"He doesn't need to be a cop again, he can be something else," said Craig Ellingson.

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