DPS Director Sandra Karsten can hold a new hearing for Piercy or redo Juden’s decision with supporting evidence.
The POST license of a former state trooper who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge after a young man drowned while in his custody is once again in the hands of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
The POST license of former Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Anthony Piercy has been revoked by the Missouri Department of Public Safety but the Cole County Circuit Court says the state agency needs to redo the process.
Piercy had appealed the revocation decision of DPS. Last week, Judge Dan Green ruled the original decision to revoke Piercy’s POST license by former DPS director Drew Juden did not include enough evidence to support the action.
Green’s ruling means DPS has two options. DPS Director Sandra Karsten can hold a new hearing for Piercy or redo Juden’s decision with supporting evidence.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that Karseten fired Piercy even though an internal hearing board recommended the former trooper be reinstated and transferred to another patrol division.
At the time of the incident that lead to the disciplinary action, Piercy was assigned to Troop F, which includes all of the Lake of the Ozarks.
All law enforcement officers in the state of Missouri have to be licensed through POST. Without the license, you cannot work as a police officer in Missouri.
POST is a division of the Missouri DPS, as is the Missouri State Highway Patrol. To discipline a license holder, POST begins with an incident that they are aware of, such as through media reports, or a complaint either from a citizen or, as occurs most often, from the law enforcement agency employing the officer.
An administrative ruling commission determines whether the case has grounds to move forward. DPS cannot take action until the administrative hearing commission rules. Then the director of DPS holds a director’s hearing to determine the level, if any, for discipline.
The hearing provides the officer with an opportunity to argue mitigating circumstances and record of service. The DPS director determines what, if any, of disciplinary actions should be taken against the license. That can include probation, suspension or revocation.
Piercy was a state trooper working on Lake of the Ozarks when 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson drowned while being transported. Ellingson had been arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated on May 31, 2014.
Piercy admittedly improperly placed a lifejacket around Ellingson after handcuffing him for transport to shore. The college student from Clive, Iowa was thrown out out of the Missouri State Highway Patrol vessel that was reportedly traveling too fast for conditions. After unsuccessful attempts to get Ellingson back into the boat after his lifejacket came off, he drowned.
Piercy later pled guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge in the incident.
Karsten terminated Piercy from the highway patrol against an internal disciplinary panel’s recommendation. Piercy successfully fought the termination when a circuit judge ruled that Karsten did not have the authority to go against the panel’s recommendation.
Piercy’s disciplinary case within the MSHP was remanded back to the panel for another review and further recommendation.
Brandon Ellingson’s father, Craig Ellingson filed a complaint with POST after Piercy avoided a jury trial on involuntary manslaughter charges and pleaded guilty to a the misdemeanor charge of negligent operation of a vessel. Under the plea, Piercy faced up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Piercy was given a suspended execution of sentence, two years of supervised probation, 50 hours of community service that he served with the Royal Theater in Versailles and 10 days in jail that he was allowed to to do in stints of two days at a time.