Anthony Piercy has filed to voluntarily dismiss his three lawsuits against the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Department of Public Safety and the department's director, which all stem from the loss of Piercy's job and peace officer's license following the 2014 drowning of a man in his custody as a trooper.
The dismissals mean Piercy will receive a total of more than $200,000 for owed back pay and for agreeing not to be reinstated to the patrol and not to protest his peace officer's license being revoked, according to the Missouri Attorney General's Office, which represented the state in the three cases.
Without a peace officer's license, Piercy cannot work for a law enforcement agency in Missouri.
Brandon Ellingson, 20, of Clive, Iowa, drowned in May 2014 at the Lake of the Ozarks after Piercy arrested him for suspicion of boating while intoxicated, handcuffed him and placed the wrong kind of life vest on him. Ellingson drowned, despite Piercy's attempts to save him, after he fell into the lake and the vest came off.
Following the accident, a Patrol Crash Review Board investigated and recommended Piercy be suspended without pay for 40 hours and he "complete a four-week Marine Operations Trooper Training Course" and field evaluation program before being assigned to "marine operations duties."
Piercy was a veteran Highway Patrol road trooper who was cross-trained in 2013 for water patrol duties after the once-separate Highway and Water patrols merged in 2011.
The Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control conducted another investigation, and the resulting report led to a hearing by a Morgan County coroner's jury, which found no crime had been committed.
However, a special prosecutor later charged Piercy with involuntary manslaughter, a felony, but that charge was reduced to negligent operation of a vessel — a misdemeanor to which Piercy pleaded guilty to in 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 completed.
A Highway Patrol officer review panel looked at the case and recommended Piercy be reinstated to active duty but transferred from Troop F in Jefferson City to another location in the state. Then-Superintendent Sandra Karsten in December 2017 fired Piercy instead.
Piercy's peace officer's license was also revoked by the Public Safety Department in 2018.
Piercy challenged both of those decisions — first, with a lawsuit filed in December 2017 to appeal Karsten's decision to fire him, then with another lawsuit filed in August 2018 to appeal the loss of his peace officer's license.
Karsten is currently the director of the Public Safety Department.
Cole County Judge Pat Joyce ruled in Piercy's favor in July 2018 when she determined Karsten had overstepped her authority in firing him. The Western District Court of Appeals ruled in August 2019 in agreement with Joyce, but that still left the question of whether Piercy was owed back pay.
Cole County Judge Dan Green also ruled in May 2019 the Public Safety Department had violated the law when it revoked Piercy's peace officer's license — which, following a hearing the month before, was revoked on the same day in 2018 as Joyce's ruling in Piercy's favor on his firing.
A month after Green's ruling, the department revoked Piercy's license again, and Piercy filed a third lawsuit in June 2019 to challenge that decision.
According to Missouri's Peace Officer Standards and Training program, eligibility conditions for someone interested in becoming licensed as a peace officer include not having any criminal history — which Piercy has due to his earlier guilty plea for negligent operation of a vessel.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell said other states also have access to a registry of former officers who have had their licenses revoked.
O'Connell said the department declined to offer further comment on the resolution of Piercy's cases, other than making clear without a license, Piercy cannot work for the Highway Patrol or any other law enforcement agency in the state.
Piercy's attorney did not respond to requests from the News Tribune for comment.