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Piercy seeks to get peace officer license back

Piercy seeks to get peace officer license back

August 15th, 2018 by News Tribune in Local News

Former Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Anthony Piercy has appealed the loss of his peace officer's license after it was revoked last month.

This week, Piercy's lawyer, Tim Van Ronzelen, of Jefferson City, appealed the license revocation to the Cole County Circuit Court. Van Ronzelen also is asking Cole County Judge Dan Green, who has been assigned the case, to grant an immediate stay of the revocation.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden revoked the license after a hearing in July, and there is no other option to appeal available inside the department.

Piercy already has won one legal battle, with Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce ruling that Patrol Superintendent Sandra Karsten overstepped her authority when she fired Piercy last December after a disciplinary review board recommended he be reinstated.

The state has asked Joyce to amend her ruling or to issue a stay on its effectiveness while the state appeals the ruling to the Missouri court of appeals in Kansas City. Joyce set a hearing on that motion for Aug. 24.

Piercy is a veteran road trooper who, in 2013, was cross-trained for water patrol duties after the 2011 merger of the state's Highway and Water patrols.

On May 31, 2014, Piercy arrested Brandon Ellingson, 19, of Clive, Iowa, for boating while intoxicated on the Lake of the Ozarks. While taking Ellingson to the zone office to complete the testing required for the BWI charge, Piercy's boat hit a wave and Ellingson fell into the lake.

Piercy had placed the wrong kind of life jacket on Ellingson, and it came off when he fell into the water. Ellingson drowned despite Piercy's attempt to save him.

A special prosecutor charged Piercy with involuntary manslaughter, but that charge was reduced last year to negligent operation of a vessel.

Piercy pleaded guilty to that charge in June 2017 and was sentenced to 180 days in jail with the execution of the sentence suspended; placed on two years of supervised probation, which doesn't end until next year; and ordered to serve 10 days in jail, which he already has done.

A six-member Highway Patrol Review Board considered Piercy's case and determined Dec. 11 that his conduct had violated the patrol's "general orders" — but the board unanimously recommended Piercy be reinstated to active duty and transferred from Troop F to another part of the state.

However, on Dec. 15, Karsten ordered Piercy fired, which led to his lawsuit.

Joyce's ruling agreed with Piercy's argument that state law doesn't allow the superintendent to impose a discipline greater than the Review Board recommended.

Joyce issued her initial order June 27 — the same day Juden heard testimony on the request to revoke Piercy's law enforcement license.

In Piercy's appeal to reinstate his license, Van Ronzelen said Juden's decision does not "contain any factual findings or legal conclusions and does not state what facts the Director relied on in imposing the harshest possible discipline."

Van Ronzelen also stated Juden's decision "does not specify what evidence was considered in making the determination to revoke Piercy's license, but only states that it was solely on the facts and evidence in the record."

Van Ronzelen is asking Green either to vacate or remand Juden's order or to remand to the department for reconsideration and that Piercy's attorney fees and costs be paid by the department.