VERSAILLES, Mo. (AP) -- The family of an Iowa man who drowned while handcuffed is upset that the former Missouri state trooper was allowed to do community service by helping with a live theater production after being convicted in the case.
Anthony Piercy pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor boat violation in the 2014 death of Brandon Ellingson, who fell into the Lake of the Ozarks while in Piercy's custody. Piercy was sentenced in September to 50 hours of community service and 10 days in jail.
The judge didn't specify where community service had to be completed, so Piercy was given credit for working a play at the Royal Theatre in Versailles, Missouri. He has worked in community theater before, the Kansas City Star reported.
"I thought it was a joke," said Craig Ellingson, the father of the 20-year-old who drowned. "He (Piercy) had been in plays before, that was his hobby. That would be like me working at my company for community service. .. Basically, it was a picnic for him."
Piercy's hours were signed off by Cindy Davenport, the executive director of the Royal Arts Council Inc. She said Piercy assisted with the production and performances of the play.
Helping out with a community play isn't what community service should look like, said William Camm Seay, the special prosecutor who initially charged Piercy in December 2015.
"I'm a believer that when you have suffered the consequence, a judgment is rendered against you and you do your time, then you are looked at differently," Seay said. "But I don't feel like in this instance, I don't feel like he had done what he should have done. ... Did he get what he deserved? No."
Piercy pulled over Brandon Ellingson of Clive, Iowa, on the water for suspicion of boating while intoxicated in May 2014. He was taking Ellingson for a breath test when the Arizona State University student fell into the water. Piercy had put the wrong style of life jacket on the handcuffed man, causing the safety device to come off when he went into the water.
The trooper was fired after Ellingson's death. A lawsuit filed by Piercy looking to get his job back is ongoing.