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Sgt. demoted after claiming to tell the truth in drowning case

A highway patrol sergeant is in trouble for what his lawyer says was telling the truth.

Randy Henry has publicly criticized the Highway Patrol’s handling of the drowning investigation of Brandon Ellingson.

Ellingson is the 20-year-old who drowned a year ago at the Lake of the Ozarks while in Highway Patrol custody.

On Thursday, Henry’s attorney announced Henry had been demoted and transferred.

Henry is a 29 1/2 year veteran officer who has spent nearly three decades at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Now the patrol is expecting Henry to pick up and move to the Truman Lake area and be demoted to corporal.

It is important to note Henry is not trooper Anthony Piercy.

Piercy is the one who arrested Ellingson, and did not follow protocol during the arrest.

Henry was a sergeant at the lake who spoke to Piercy after the drowning, and since then has been speaking out about what he knew about the investigation.

Since Ellingson drowned on May 31, 2014, Henry has been called to testify at hearings and brought in for questioning by patrol.

However, in almost every instance it seems he was silenced in some way.

“On October 2, I was advised by the highway patrol’s legal council that when I am on state time I represent them and required to support their views. I am here today on my own time without representing Missouri Highway Patrol,” said Henry at the second hearing in October on the merger of water patrol into highway patrol.

This statement from Henry came just days after he said this while answering questions from state representatives about patrol training, “there was great concern some of these part timers didn’t take the final swim test at the academy, for whatever reason they were hurt or whatever, they graduated from the academy the four week boat class – they didn’t even take the test much less pass it.”

Henry’s lawyer, Chet Pleban, told ABC 17 News Henry has no fight in this case but the truth, which is something he went to patrol with after Ellingson’s drowning.

However, even then they shut the recorder off on him.

“I said did we ask ourselves did he use the highest degree of care here? Um Missouri Statute 306. 125…. No. Turn it off… Turn it off,” said investigators as Henry was doing an interview with them.

Now Henry is facing punishment, but only after patrol made Henry take a mental examination, not once but two times.

“Here is the tell tale sign this wasn’t done in good faith. You would think that if you send a trooper to have a mental fitness exam not once but twice that you would remove his service revolver – because if you think there is some issue like that why would you let him run around while you are trying to make a determination if he is even fit to carry that gun?” said Pleban, Henry’s lawyer.

The mental health provider found nothing wrong with Henry’s health and said it would be unethical to see him for a third time at the insistence of Highway Patrol.

Henry has appealed his punishment and will eventually have to go before a disciplinary board.

In the meantime though his punishment has gone into effect and he is serving the patrol as a corporal and commuting an hour and a half to work each day.

As far as trooper Anthony Piercy who arrested Ellingson, sources said he has not faced a single day of punishment.

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