KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A special prosecutor is taking a fresh look at the death of a handcuffed Iowa suspect who went overboard as a Missouri State Highway Patrol boat was transporting him.
Amanda Grellner acknowledged she is reviewing the case after receiving new information, The Kansas City Star reported. After a coroner's inquest found 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson's death to be an accident, Grellner declined four months ago to press charges against trooper Anthony Piercy. Grellner, the Osage County prosecutor, said she couldn't discuss specifics of the investigation.
Ellingson, who grew up around West Des Moines, Iowa, and had just finished his sophomore year at Arizona State University, went into the water May 31 as Piercy was transporting him from the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. Witnesses have said that Ellingson's arms weren't in the life jacket's arm holes and that the safety device slipped off.
Patrol officials say Piercy cannot be interviewed because of an ongoing lawsuit. Lt. John Hotz, a patrol spokesman, said that all he could say about the case review was that patrol investigators had conducted additional interviews in recent weeks.
The interviews included ones with a husband and wife who, with their son, saw Ellingson in the water minutes before he drowned and who saw his life vest float away.
In June, the Moreaus told a patrol investigator that once Piercy had maneuvered his boat next to Ellingson, the trooper showed no urgency in helping the man in the water, didn't turn on his red lights and didn't motion for them to assist. The family eventually left the area thinking the trooper had everything under control. They didn't know Ellingson was in handcuffs.
Larry Moreau's initial interview with a trooper several months ago lasted about 15 minutes. Earlier this month, he said that same trooper and another investigator interviewed him for nearly 1 1/2 hours.
"I don't think the truth had been told," Larry Moreau said.
Sherry Ellingson, Brandon's mother, said she doesn't think her son's death was thoroughly investigated. She emailed Grellner in the fall after Larry Moreau and his wife, Paulette, told her they had contacted the special prosecutor to say that the inquest jury hadn't heard all of their information. They were not called to testify at the inquest.
Having the prosecutor take another look is a "good sign," Ellingson said. "I'm hopeful, but I can't help but be incredibly skeptical, too."