Missouri State Highway Patrol whistleblower files lawsuit; claims he was forced out

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO (KTVI) – Former Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant Randy Henry is now suing the head of the patrol and two other officers after accusing the agency of engaging in a cover-up over an arrestee’s death on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Henry, a 29-year veteran of the highway patrol, said he fears the state police won’t do the right thing unless he keeps pushing.

Henry may be the reason why we know so much about Brandon Ellingson’s drowning. Henry had one of the first conversations with the trooper who cuffed Ellingson on suspicion of boating drunk.

Fox 2 News then demonstrated what may have happened on that Memorial Day weekend 2014. We used the information Henry gathered, such as Ellingson being cuffed before the placement of a ski vest-style lifejacket. GPS tracked the trooper going more than 43 miles an hour down the lake. We showed what might’ve happened with Ellingson going overboard, hands cuffed, in that type of lifejacket. The lifejacket popped right off.

Henry said the MSHP did not appreciate him speaking up. According to Henry’s lawsuit, MSHP legal counsel told him, “As long as you are wearing that uniform, you’ll testify the way you are told.”

Henry said he couldn’t go along with those instructions.

“I’ll go down the street and retire before I stand at the capitol and lie,” he said.

Henry’s attorney, J.C. Pleban, said the water patrol and highway patrol attempted to pressure his client into presenting a certain story pertaining to the day of Ellingson’s death.

According to the lawsuit, the patrol ordered Henry to take a test to see if he was fit for duty. He reportedly passed, then was ordered to undergo a second fit for duty evaluation. The evaluator again concluded that Henry was fit for duty and further stated that it would be unethical to require Henry to undergo further evaluation.

According to the lawsuit, “…Just five days after providing truthful testimony in the Ellingson lawsuit that did not support the MSHP’s position, Henry was notified that formal charges had been filed against him.”

Henry said the patrol ordered him to transfer, which he was not going to do to his family.

“They figured the way of getting me out was to force me to transfer over to Truman Lake, two counties away, and they knew I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Henry retired last December.

“He told the truth and he was forced out and that’s not right,” Pleban said.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety said it would be inappropriate to publicly respond to a lawsuit and the Missouri Attorney General’s office declined to comment.