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JEFFERSON CITY - A settlement was announced Thursday in the civil case of Iowa resident Brandon Ellingson's 2014 death.

Ellingson drowned while handcuffed in Missouri State Highway Patrol's custody. Trooper Anthony Piercy arrested Ellingson for boating while intoxicated, but he allegedly put on Ellingson's life jacket incorrectly.

The Ellingson family won $9 million from the state of Missouri after their 20-year-old son died at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Matt Boles, the family's attorney, said the Ellingsons wanted the state of Missouri to take responsibility, but the money isn't the point. 

"I think it's pretty clear that this has not been about the money. It's about making sure that no other family suffers the pain and the loss of somebody at the hands of law enforcement that isn't properly trained to take custody and control of somebody," Boles said.

KOMU 8 reached out to Missouri State Highway Patrol for comment on the settlement.

Captain John Hotz released this statement: "The mission of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is to serve and protect all people, and any loss of life is a tragedy. With this case now settled through the court system, the Patrol will have no additional comment on this matter."

Ellingson's death came shortly after former Governor Nixon signed legislation to merge the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Water Patrol.

"It takes vigilant prosecution of a case like this to hold people accountable and that's really what the Ellingsons wanted in the very beginning, is for the state of Missouri to accept responsibility for making a budget decision to merge the Water Patrol with the Highway patrol," Boles said. 

KOMU 8 reached out to the case's defense attorney Ross Alexander Brown with the Missouri Attorney General's office, but they declined to comment.

 

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