MAQUOKETA, Iowa — A Jackson County newspaper is suing for access to police body camera footage recorded on the night a local prosecutor was cited for an open container violation.
The Maquoketa Sentinel-Press this week filed a lawsuit against the Maquoketa Police Department seeking the footage from an April 6 incident involving Assistant County Attorney Amanda Lassance.
“This is not an action we wanted to take, but we feel we have no choice,” said Sentinel-Press Publisher Trevis Mayfield in an article announcing the suit. “We had hoped that our appeal to city officials would help get the public the information that rightfully belongs to taxpayers.”
The city has not filed a response to the suit, which was filed Thursday in Iowa District Court for Jackson County.
According to court records, Nicholas Shannon called authorities early April 6 to report that he had been assaulted by Lassance while she was driving them on U.S. 61. The couple had pulled over near 140th Street, which is in Clinton County, about nine miles south of Maquoketa.
Though Lassance was found in the driver’s seat, admitted to drinking and had “bloodshot” and “watery” eyes and slurred speech, Clinton County Sheriff’s Department deputies never conducted field sobriety tests, according to documents obtained by the Telegraph Herald.
Maquoketa police and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department deputies also responded to the scene. A Clinton County deputy ultimately gave Lassance a ride to the county offices in Maquoketa, where she spent the night.
Both the Telegraph Herald and the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press filed open records requests with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. The agency provided camera footage, 911 recordings and other documents.
However, requests for similar information and recordings from Maquoketa police have been denied repeatedly, according to the Sentinel-Press suit.
Mayfield said the newspaper is following its protocol for stories involving public-records requests.
“We handled this story as we would any other in which the public has a vested interest,” Mayfield said. “It is our job to seek all records and do our job to its conclusion. The city, unfortunately, is putting itself on the wrong side of this issue. Why city leadership would take this position, we don’t know.”