(KTVI) - Who investigates the investigators? A Highway Patrol Sergeant claims a cover-up by his own department is proof the State of Missouri needs an independent investigative unit. FOX 2`s Chris Hayes found Missouri`s Governor once fought for this, but has since changed his mind.
“They can`t be trusted to investigate themselves,” Sgt. Randy Henry said of the MO Highway Patrol. He`s the whistleblower in the drowning death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson. Sgt. Henry's colleague, Highway Patrol trooper Tony Piercy arrested Ellingson on suspicion of boating drunk May 31st, 2014, handcuffed him, improperly put a life jacket on him and boated at high speeds on choppy waters.
We demonstrated what might`ve gone wrong, in a Fox Files investigation.
Sgt. Henry says he talked to Piercy after the drowning and then tried to share details with Highway Patrol investigators. Henry says they did not want to hear it and told him “I didn`t need to do a report. I knew right then the fix is in.” Henry continued, “I think this has exposed them as human. They`re like any other agency. They`re going to have problems and cover-ups and they got caught this time.”
Henry spoke out about the drowning and says the Highway Patrol retaliated, attempting to discipline and transfer him. Governor Jay Nixon refused to answer my questions about it during a news conference in early November.
Sgt. Henry said, “I’d like to focus on the future. How can we prevent something like this?” He added, “The idea`s been tossed around about having a Missouri Bureau of Investigation similar to other states.”
FOX 2 found that Jay Nixon pushed the idea when he ran for Missouri Attorney General in 1992. He wrote an editorial titled “Attack crime 3 ways.” Number one on his list was a “…coordinated statewide investigations team.” A “Missouri Bureau of Investigations” or “MBI.”
I caught up with Governor Nixon at another news conference and got an unexpected answer. I asked, “What do you think about Sgt. Randy Henry`s suggestion that Missouri begin an independent bureau of investigation?”
Governor Nixon answered, “I don`t think we need that.” He continued, “I think we`ve got a lot of assets. Coordinating those assets is more important than adding another bureaucracy.”
I followed up, “I thought you ran for that on your platform for Attorney General in 1992?”
Gov. Nixon: “We talked about it at that time because we had some gaps in what the Highway Patrol was able to do.”
He pointed out the Highway Patrol can now get local search warrants and work with multijurisdictional enforcement groups called “MEG units.” He did not address Sgt. Henry`s cover-up allegations.
Henry reiterated, “They should be investigated by somebody that doesn`t have any political ties to anybody.” He says he`ll keep pushing for a MBA as he cooperates with Ellingson family lawyers to get answers about the drowning death of Brandon Ellingson.
Follow Fox 2’s Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV