Several years ago I was visiting a friend in the Lake of the Ozarks and the boat we were in ventured over to what is known locally as the Party Cove. As we arrived it was pretty obvious alcohol was flowing like there was no tomorrow. As a lawyer who deals with civil lawsuits over drunken driving causing death and serious injury I could help but look for the Missouri DNR. Quick to find their boat I watched to see how they executed an arrest. It didn’t take long before they had a middle aged man blowing on the PBT meter. He obviously blew high because they promptly informed him of his rights and then with his arms behind his back placed his wrists in handcuffs after putting him in a lifejacket.

The Des Moines Register news report indicates the lifejacket came off which most likely is caused by the plastic clips not being properly secured.

I grew up around the water and spent many years water skiing so I know what one of these lifejackets feels like. It is terribly constraining even without handcuffs, but with your arms handcuffed behind you I would not even want to attempt to swim and keep my head above water.

So it was not a surprise to me to learn one of our former Valley High School parkers drowned after being taken into custody at the Lake of the Ozarks. I would like to know if statistics are kept on how many drowning victims there are from using this arrest technique. After all the person being taken into custody stands accused of having impaired judgment and is “in custody” which raises the level of care owed to them by law enforcement. At the time I watched from afar in our boat I couldn’t believe how many things I saw wrong with the arrest procedures. Read this story below and pay particular attention to how few details the local police are releasing. As the parents come to grips with the loss of their son, they might want to consider civil liability of those placing him under arrest. 

Clive Man's Body Recovered, KCCI, Reporter Chris Kelley

Clive native Brandon Ellingson has died following a drowning Saturday.

20-year-old Ellingson was stopped by police while boating in the Lake of the Ozarks yesterday.

Police detained Ellingson for operating while intoxicated and while they were transferring him to land, Ellingson either jumped or fell from the patrol boat into the lake. Police were unable to retrieve Ellingson from the water.

Ellingson was a football player at West Des Moines High School and graduated in 2012. According to the university's website, Ellingson attended Arizona State University.

A patrol dive team recovered his body around 11:30 this morning, according to online police reports. There is currently no update on whether Ellingson jumped or fell.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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