Amanda Lassance, an assistant Jackson County attorney, sat in her car stopped along the side of U.S. Highway 61 in the early morning hours of April 6.
When a Clinton County sheriff’s deputy approached, he observed “an empty cooler along with multiple empty Busch Light cans and one full Busch Light can on the ground right outside the passenger door,” according to the deputy’s report. The car was parked and did not have keys in the ignition.
When Deputy Andrew Petersen opened the driver’s door at the request of Lassance, according to his report, he “noticed a strong odor of alcohol emitting from inside the vehicle, and I observed a 3/4 full can of an open Busch Light beer in the passenger door.”
Petersen and Clinton Deputy Mark Mahmens Jr. were on the scene as the result of a 911 call from Nick Shannon at 12:56 a.m. in which he reported to police that he and Lassance were stopped near Welton, that they had been drinking and that she had assaulted him.
The Maquoketa Sentinel-Press obtained a copy of Petersen’s report despite Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln and Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf denying a public record request the newspaper filed under Iowa’s Freedom of Information Act seeking witness statements, police reports and police video from the scene.
Petersen’s report sheds additional light on what transpired that evening when deputies issued citations for driving with an open container to Shannon and Lassance, who regularly prosecutes drunk driving cases as part of her job with Jackson County. They both pleaded guilty April 15, and Wolf has filed no additional charges.
According to Petersen’s report, Lassance admitted that she had been drinking.
“As I talked more with Amanda,” Petersen wrote in his report, “I observed her eyes were blood shot and watery and her speech was slurred. Amanda stated the argument with Nicholas was only verbal and she wasn’t hurt, nor should Nicholas be hurt. Since Amanda had admitted to consuming alcohol and driving, I was planning to run Amanda through SFST’s [Standard Field Sobriety Testing],” the report reads.
But before he administered the test, he changed his mind.
The report said Lassance told Petersen that she was drinking in the vehicle after Shannon took the keys out of the ignition.
“From my training,” Petersen wrote in the report, “I know I wouldn’t be able to charge Amanda with OWI, as she admitted to consuming additional alcohol after operating the vehicle.”
Lincoln had previously confirmed deputies did not conduct sobriety tests, and he was quoted in a May 4 article saying of the deputies’ actions, “If they had reason to believe they could do so and felt it necessary, they would have. I have full faith those deputies were acting in full accordance of what they believe they could do to make a case, so they must have had reason to believe they didn’t.”
The 911 call from along the highway came after what both Shannon and Lassance described in witness statements as an argument that started at Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island, Illinois, and continued as they drove home to LaMotte. Those statements were also obtained by the Sentinel-Press independently after a request for them was denied by both Lincoln and Wolf.
Both Lassance and Shannon accuse the other of throwing a cooler of beer and spilling it all over the car, as well as allegations of punching and hitting at both the casino hotel and in the car.
Petersen’s report states that he “transported Amanda in my squad 1544 to the area of the Fire Department in Maq [sic].” The fire department is located at 106 S. Niagara St., across the street from the Jackson County Courthouse, 201 W. Platt St., where Lassance has an office.
The report does not say how Lassance’s car was removed from the scene.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council has joined the Sentinel-Press in its effort to obtain additional information from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department about the call.
Jackson County Attorney Sara Davenport said this week that Lassance is still employed as a Jackson County assistant attorney, but she is not at work as she recovers from injuries sustained in an unrelated car accident April 12.
Earlier this month, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department showed the Sentinel-Press more than five minutes of video footage from Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Roeder’s body camera in response to a separate open records request. Roeder was the first on the scene and left after Clinton County deputies arrived.
The footage shows Roeder talking with Shannon, but it does not show any interaction with Lassance. Petersen’s report said that when he and Mahmens arrived on the scene, they spoke with Roeder, “who had already spoken with both parties of the incident.”
When asked Wednesday if the Sentinel-Press was shown all the footage that existed, Jackson County Sheriff Russ Kettman said, “You got everything.” He also said 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,” Kettman said. Roeder independently confirmed that he did not talk to Lassance at the scene.
Reached Thursday, Shannon told the Sentinel-Press that Lassance had run off the road multiple times after leaving Jumer’s Casino before he got her to stop the car so he could take the keys out of the ignition. He also said Lassance was driving because he has two drunk driving convictions on his record and he wanted to avoid a third.
Lassance has declined to comment for the story.
Sentinel-Press staffers Kelly Gerlach, Nick Joos, Nancy Mayfield and Trevis Mayfield contributed to this report.