Judge fines Highway Patrol over records in drowning case

Missouri Highway Patrol

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri judge has fined the state Highway Patrol $5,000 after finding that it violated open records law in responding to requests from the family of an Iowa man who drowned while in custody.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued the order Wednesday. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2cjU17R ), Beetem ruled that the state’s delays in turning over documents to Brandon Ellingson’s family amounted to a “purposeful violation” of law. The fine is the maximum allowed.

Ellingson was arrested in 2014 on the Lake of the Ozarks on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. While being transported, he tumbled into the water wearing an improperly secured life vest and drowned. The arresting trooper faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The attorney general’s office says it is reviewing Beetem’s ruling.