A handcuffed Arizona State University student drowned Saturday evening after he went off a police boat.
Brandon Ellingson, 20, was detained by police for boating while intoxicated. He stood up on the boat and either fell or jumped into the water. This distinction is one of the two primary focuses of the investigation. The second is how Ellingson’s life jacket came off in the water.
He was handcuffed at the time. The life jacket was a “Level 3″ — one that resembles a vest and has three buckles in the front.
“That is a big part of our investigation,” Reinsch said. “To determine how it came off after it was placed on him.”
He had been arrested for suspicion of boating while intoxicated.
Missouri State Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch said the officer who arrested Ellingson is on paid administrative leave, which is standard policy for major incidents.
The officer jumped into the water and attempted to save Ellingson but was unable to reach him.
Gloria Ellingson, Brandon’s grandmother, declined to discuss his death, but says the family is considering pursuing a lawsuit.
“You know what, he was perfect. He was handsome, he was very, very smart,” Gloria said. “He could joke with you. He could be on any level. There wasn’t anybody like him.”
Reinsch describes it as a difficult situation, “You can’t lock the doors, can’t place them in a seatbelt. It’s very difficult to even stand in a boat when it’s moving. So a totally different situation.”