Clive Man Drowns While in Police Custody


Image courtesy the Des Moines Register

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LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Missouri – Police in Missouri are looking into how a handcuffed Clive man drowned while in custody.

20 year old Brandon Ellingson died Saturday at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

He had just been arrested for drunken boating and either jumped or fell from a police boat into the water.

“He’s probably the toughest kid I’ve ever seen play hockey,” said Rock Naert, a former assistant coach for the Des Moines Capitals hockey team.

Naert had high hopes for the former captain of his hockey team.

“He would have done great things with his life,” said Naert.

A former student at West Des Moines Valley High School and standout football player for the Tigers, Ellingson got four years of hockey coaching from Naert.

“I watched him become a man,” Naert told Channel 13 News.

What type of man Ellingson would have become will never be realized.

“The trooper dove in and tried to save him but was unfortunately unable to do so,” said Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Missouri State Patrol.

Missouri authorities say Ellingson was placed in a patrol boat and being transported to take a Breathalyzer test after being arrested.

At some point, he stood up and either jumped or fell from the boat.

With his hands cuffed behind his back and no seat belts, his only protection was a vest style life jacket.

“It’s designed to keep a person afloat if it’s properly worn,” said Reinsch.

Authorities say it slipped off and they’re investigating how that happened.

Naert hopes authorities also look into their procedures for making water arrests.

“I have absolutely no idea why you would ever put someone in handcuffs on a boat,” said Naert.

In Iowa, suspects are also cuffed when arrested on the water.

Aron Arthur, a conservation officer with the Iowa DNR says he can’t comment on the incident in Missouri.

He says it is standard practice to use handcuffs for the officers’ safety, but adds that the suspect and their life jacket should be properly secured inside the boat.

“If it’s placed on their properly, it should stay on,” said Arthur.

According to his friends, Ellingson was studying business at Arizona State University.

The officer who arrested him has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.


A Clive man, after he had been placed in law enforcement custody, somehow fell out of a boat and drowned at the Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend.

The Missouri Highway Patrol said it happened about 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The patrol said law enforcement was transporting Brandon Ellingson, 20, across the lake after they cited him for boating while intoxicated. Officials said Ellingson had been wearing a life jacket and was handcuffed at the time.

Officials said Ellingson stood up in the boat and either fell or jumped overboard.

A dive team recovered his body shortly before 11:30 a.m. Sunday.


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