One month after a Cole County Circuit judge ruled the state Public Safety Department violated state law last year when it revoked a Highway Patrol trooper's peace officer's license, the department confirmed it has again revoked that license.
Public Safety director to decide whether Anthony Piercy gets new hearing on licenseRead more
Former Trooper Anthony Piercy's attorney, Tim Van Ronzelen, of Jefferson City, told the News Tribune: "We will be filing an appeal (to the Cole County Circuit Court) from Deputy Director Kenny Jones' decision in Mr. Piercy's case."
Judge Dan Green's May 20 ruling ordered the department to, "at the Director's discretion, issue appropriate findings and conclusions on the existing record, or, alternatively, conduct a new disciplinary hearing and issue appropriate findings and conclusions thereafter."
Van Ronzelen said Thursday Jones "did not afford Mr. Piercy a new hearing after Judge Green reversed former Director Juden's (2018) order."
Although neither Public Safety Department Spokesman Mike O'Connell nor Van Ronzelen released the text of Jones' decision, the Kansas City Star reported Jones wrote: "An individual in custody is entitled to safe treatment from his arresting officer."
Law officers' licenses are issued by the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) program.
O'Connell told the News Tribune on Thursday afternoon that Piercy's license revocation was a new action, based on Green's ruling last month.
O'Connell added, "By state law, the POST program can only provide an officer's current licensing and commissioning status. Piercy's license is revoked. Without a license he cannot be commissioned by any law enforcement agency."
That statute, 590.180, says: "All other records retained by the director pertaining to any applicant or licensee shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed to the public or any member of the public, except with written consent of the person or entity whose records are involved."
The law includes an exception "that the director may disclose such information in the course of voluntary interstate exchange of information, during the course of litigation involving the director, to other state agencies, or, upon a final determination of cause to discipline, to law enforcement agencies."
Piercy's legal troubles began on Memorial Day Weekend 2014.
He was a veteran Highway Patrol road trooper who was cross-trained in 2013 for water patrol duties, after the 2011 merger of the once-separate Highway and Water Patrols.
On May 31, 2014, Piercy arrested Brandon Ellingson, 20, of Clive, Iowa, for boating while intoxicated on the Lake of the Ozarks.
As part of the arrest, he put a life jacket on Ellingson and handcuffed him.
Then, while taking Ellingson to the zone office to complete the testing required for the BWI charge, Piercy's boat hit a wake and Ellingson fell into the lake.
However, Piercy had placed the wrong kind of life jacket on Ellingson, and it came off when the college student fell into the water.
Ellingson drowned despite Piercy's attempt to save him.
A special prosecutor charged Piercy with involuntary manslaughter. However, that charge was reduced to negligent operation of a vessel, a misdemeanor, and Piercy pleaded guilty to that charge in June 2017 in Morgan County.
He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with the execution of the sentence suspended, placed on two years of supervised probation and ordered to serve 10 days in jail — which he has completed.
A six-member Highway Patrol Review panel examined his case and recommended Piercy be reinstated to active duty.
Instead, then-Superintendent Sandra Karsten fired Piercy, resulting in a lawsuit and a July 16, 2018, ruling by Cole County Presiding Circuit Judge Pat Joyce that Karsten had overstepped her authority.
The patrol appealed that ruling, and three judges of the state's appeals court district in Kansas City are scheduled to hear arguments on that appeal July 19.
Meanwhile, Piercy's license also was subject to discipline because of his plea to a crime.
The Public Safety Department sought to revoke Piercy's license and, in February 2018, won a ruling from the Administrative Hearing Commission that "cause exists for the Department to take disciplinary action."
Juden held a disciplinary hearing June 27, 2018, then issued his one-page decision to revoke Piercy's license July 16 — the same day Joyce said Piercy was entitled to stay with the patrol.
Piercy's attorneys argued in a second lawsuit "(Juden)'s decision does not include any factual findings or legal conclusions and does not state what facts Juden relied on in imposing the harshest possible discipline."
Green's ruling a month ago agreed — setting up the latest actions.
Karsten is now the state Public Safety director, but Jones — a former state lawmaker and Moniteau County sheriff — made the new decision in Piercy's case.