Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Petersen told Amanda Lassance not to go into the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as he dropped her off near the county law center in the early morning hours of April 6, newly released police dashboard video shows.
“I was told to let you know just not to go into the sheriff’s office, okay,” the video shows Petersen saying to Lassance, an assistant Jackson County attorney, as she exits his vehicle. He repeats again that she should not go into the sheriff’s office.
Earlier that morning, just after midnight, Petersen had cited Lassance for possession of an open container of alcohol as she sat parked along the side of U.S. Highway 61, slurring her words, according to his report, and with open beer cans scattered about.
The video from Petersen’s police vehicle did not make clear who had told Petersen to relay that message to Lassance, and he could not be reached for clarification Monday afternoon and did not return telephone calls by press time Tuesday morning.
Lassance’s supervisor, Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport, has confirmed that Lassance spent the rest of the night in the Jackson County Courthouse.
The video, along with further review of call logs, also raises new questions about previously published information from Jackson County Sheriff Russ Kettmann.
In response to an open records request the Sentinel-Press filed April 18, Kettmann allowed the Sentinel-Press to view just over five minutes of body camera footage Jackson County Deputy Chad Roeder took at the scene. Roeder’s body camera footage captures conversation between Roeder and Nick Shannon, who made an emergency call at 12:56 a.m. to report that he and Lassance were stopped near Welton, that they had been drinking and that she had assaulted him. Lassance was never visible in the footage, and Roeder said he never spoke with Lassance during the call.
When asked May 15 if the Sentinel-Press was shown all of the footage that existed, Kettmann said, “You got everything.” He also implied Roeder’s body camera was running the entire time he was at the scene.
“He had it on when he got there, and turned it off when he was done,” Kettmann said.
However, the newly released dashcam video – which the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office provided Friday in response to a separate Sentinel-Press public records filing – shows three police officers working the scene, and Jackson County call logs indicate Roeder didn’t leave until 1:45 a.m., 37 minutes after his arrival.
As of press time, Kettmann had not returned a telephone call seeking explanation.
The Clinton County footage and call logs reveal other details about what transpired when Petersen and Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Mahmens Jr. responded to the call, which was in Clinton County’s jurisdiction.
Aside from the two Clinton County deputies, Jackson County’s dispatch log shows that one Jackson County sheriff’s unit (Roeder) responded as well as two units from the Maquoketa city police force and one from the Bellevue police force. The video footage from Petersen’s cameras shows at least three other squad cars on the scene when he arrived, with Mahmens Jr. arriving just behind Petersen.
Earlier this month, Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf and Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln released dispatch call logs and citations regarding the incident, but they had denied other information, including video footage, police reports and witness statements until Friday.
In the meantime, the newspaper independently obtained a copy of Petersen’s incident report, as well as witness statements, which provided details about the scene and reported that Lassance, who was in the driver’s seat of her stopped vehicle without the keys in the ignition, admitted to drinking before and after the car came to a stop.
The information released Friday included Petersen’s report, as well as video from his vehicle’s cameras that captured footage from both the front and rear windows. It also included footage from the camera inside the squad car, which shows Petersen transporting Lassance to Maquoketa, where she exits the vehicle near the Jackson County Courthouse.
Jackson County Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder previously confirmed that he picked Lassance up at the courthouse later that morning and drove her back to her car.
Wolf did not release footage from inside Mahmens Jr.’s vehicle, in which Shannon was seated, citing the need for confidentiality relating to a domestic violence call and interview.
Lassance, who regularly prosecutes drunk driving cases in Jackson County, and Shannon each pleaded guilty April 15 to open container violations. No additional charges have been filed.
Lassance has declined to comment.
— Sentinel-Press staffers Kelly Gerlach, Nick Joos, Nancy Mayfield and Trevis Mayfield contributed to this report.
This timeline shows how the reporting process of a 911 call involving Assistant Jackson County Attorney Amanda Lassance has unfolded over the past two months. Since it began, multiple sources, documents and information requests under Iowa’s public records laws have been part of the story. The following explains when and how disparate parts of this still unfolding story have come into public focus.
Clinton County sheriff’s deputies cited Assistant Jackson County Attorney Amanda Lassance and her companion Nick Shannon for having open containers of alcohol in Lassance’s car after responding to a 911 call made by Shannon at 12:56 a.m. According to police dispatch logs, Shannon told police Lassance’s car was stopped along U.S. Highway 61 and that Lassance had attacked him. Deputies from both Jackson and Clinton counties and officers from Maquoketa and Bellevue responded to the complaint. Days later, a Sentinel-Press reporter noticed Lassance’s name on a dispatch call log.
In an accident unrelated to the 911 call, Lassance was involved in a head-on car crash around noon and airlifted to a hospital in Iowa City. According to police reports, a car traveling in the opposite direction of Lassance’s 2013 Mazda crossed the centerline and hit her car. Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport told the Sentinel-Press Lassance was facing a long recovery.
The Sentinel-Press published its first report about the 911 call as well as a separate report about the unrelated accident. In the report about the 911 call: Jackson County Sheriff Russ Kettmann said that because the April 6 incident was in Clinton County’s jurisdiction he would not comment even though his deputy, Chad Roeder, responded to the call; Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Petersen, who also responded to the call, said, “I was told to let everyone know” only the general location of the incident and that it is under investigation; Davenport, Lassance’s supervisor, said Lassance told her about the incident after arriving at work the morning of April 8.
Lassance and Shannon both pleaded guilty to Clinton County citations of having open containers of alcohol in a vehicle.
The Sentinel-Press filed information requests under Iowa Code Chapter 22, Iowa’s public records law, with the sheriff’s departments of both Jackson and Clinton counties. The requests sought “all public documentation” related to the 911 call involving Lassance.
Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf officially denied portions to the Sentinel-Press’s open records request, including in-car video, reports from the scene and witness statements. In his denial letter, which he copied to Lincoln, he argued that the records should not be released because they are “peace officers’ investigative reports.”
The Sentinel-Press reported that Petersen refused to disclose whether deputies had conducted sobriety tests at the scene.
The Sentinel-Press reported that while Clinton County denied portions of its records request, Kettmann, Jackson County’s sheriff, allowed the Sentinel-Press to view Roeder’s body camera footage from the scene. The footage, which lasted a little more than five minutes, showed Roeder talking to both Shannon, who made the 911 call, and Clinton County deputies. Lassance never appeared on the footage.
During the reporting process for the story, Kettmann and Roeder both confirmed to the Sentinel-Press that they possessed no additional video beyond what they shared and that Roeder did not turn off his camera until, as Kettmann put it, “he was done.”
The Sentinel-Press reported that the Iowa Freedom of Information Council had joined its effort to persuade Wolf and Lincoln to release the requested public records. In the same issue, the Sentinel-Press published the letter IFIC Executive Director Randy Evans sent to Lincoln and Wolf.
The Sentinel-Press reported that it had obtained from a confidential source a copy of Petersen’s report from the scene, one of the documents Clinton County officials had denied. Petersen had written in the report that he had observed that Lassance’s “eyes were blood shot and watery and her speech was slurred.” Petersen’s report said Lassance told him at the scene that she had been drinking alcohol while sitting in the car, and because of that he decided not to conduct a sobriety test. “I know I wouldn’t be able to charge Amanda (Lassance) with OWI, as she admitted to consuming additional alcohol after operating the vehicle,” Petersen wrote. Petersen also wrote in his report that he gave Lassance a ride to a location near the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Maquoketa. In the same story, Davenport confirmed to the Sentinel-Press that Lassance was still employed by the county. (At that time, however, she was still on medical leave while recovering fromthe April 12 car crash.) In the same issue, the Sentinel-Press published a separate story in which it interviewed Robert Rigg, a Drake University law professor, who said deputies had more than enough evidence to justify giving both Lassance and Shannon sobriety tests at the scene.
The Sentinel-Press filed a complaint with the Iowa Public Information Board against Lincoln and Wolf, seeking the public documents that the officials continued to deny.
Wolf and Lincoln called the Sentinel-Press and said they were reconsidering their denial of the requested records. “I wanted to let you know it is actively being worked on,” Wolf said.
Wolf and Lincoln released most of the requested documents, including Petersen’s report (which the Sentinel-Press had previously obtained) and in-car video from Petersen’s police vehicle. Wolf still denied in-car video from Deputy Mark Mahmens Jr.’s squad car, citing confidentiality relating to a domestic violence call and an interview. The video and call logs show Roeder was present at the scene for 37 minutes, at least 30 minutes longer than the duration of his body camera video. As of press time, Kettmann had not returned a telephone call seeking explanation.