KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A retired sergeant who spoke out after a handcuffed Iowa man drowned is suing three Missouri Highway Patrol officials, saying they conspired against him and forced him to retire early.
Randy Henry filed the lawsuit Thursday, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2criQyx ) reports.
Twenty-year-old Brandon Ellingson was arrested in 2014 on the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. While being transported by arresting Trooper Anthony Piercy, he tumbled into the water wearing an improperly secured life vest and drowned.
Piercy has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.
The lawsuit said Henry informed investigators what Piercy had told him about the incident, but the version differed from the account Piercy gave to investigators. The lawsuit said Henry was told not to prepare a report. Henry said in the lawsuit he believes that patrol was attempting to cover up the circumstances of the drowning.
According to Henry, he was ordered to undergo two psychological exams. No cause for concern was noted in either exam.
Henry said he was instructed to tell a legislative committee that trooper training had been sufficient before Ellingson’s drowning. Henry said he “wasn’t going to lie for anyone.”
After testifying at a deposition, Henry said he was notified of formal internal charges has been filed against him.
Henry was eventually moved from Lake of the Ozarks and demoted. He retired before the demotion took effect.
“They forced me to retire by moving me,” Henry said. “I basically lost all supervisory roles I had. I was treated like a first-year recruit. . I feel like I was retaliated against for doing the right thing.”
Spokesman Lt. Paul Reinsch says the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
“They didn’t want it to be shown how sloppy it was,” Henry said. “The main reason I did it was for the family. The family deserves to know what happened to their son.”
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com