Petition to reinvestigate drowning reaches 100,000 signatures

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COLUMBIA - An online petition calling for authorities to reinvestigate the death of 20-year-old student Brandon Ellingson, who drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks in May while in police custody, has reached more than 100,000 signatures.

According to, the online petition demands for "a full investigation into the Missouri Water Patrol and the tragic death of Brandon Ellingson".

Larry Moreau, who was an eyewitness around the time shortly after Ellingson fell in the water, said the petition is important because he thinks there needs to be a full investigation done into what happened.

"It's a big issue of accountability," Moreau said. "For all the officers out there, we shouldn't have to think something like this could happen again."

In September, a jury ruled the death accidental after 10 minutes of deliberation at a coroner's inquest. After hearing the ruling, the Ellingson family launched a campaign calling for a full investigation to be conducted by the Department of Justice. Ellingson's mother, Sherry Ellingson of Clive, Iowa, is petitioning for a direct response from Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Ellingson drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks when he fell from the water patrol boat while being transported to shore after he was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated on May 31. Trooper Anthony Piercy handcuffed Ellingson before putting a life jacket on him. According to the police report, Ellingson moved to the side of the boat and then fell in the water.

Phone calls made by KOMU 8 News to the Missouri Highway Patrol, which has now merged with the Missouri Water Patrol, were not returned Friday.