The Observer has not yet received body camera footage from the Maquoketa Police Department after a judge ordered it released June 22.
Maquoketa City Manager Gerald Smith said he could not provide a specific date for the video’s release because the ruling by Seventh Judicial District Judge John Telleen is being reviewed by the city.
“The City has 10 days in which to respond to the ruling and the city attorney is exploring whether to recommend appealing the decision and moving to the next court,” Smith said in an email. “So I’m not able to provide a specific date of the release of the video due to the review that is under way, but a decision will be made within the 10-day timeframe.”
The footage was taken at a 911 call involving Amanda Lassance, Jackson County’s assistant attorney. Telleen heard arguments June 9 for the lawsuit that was filed in November in the Iowa District Court for Jackson County after Maquoketa Police Chief Brad Koranda last summer refused to release the electronic footage the Observer requested under the state’s open records law.
Deputies from both Jackson and Clinton counties and officers from Maquoketa and Bellevue responded to the complaint that took place on U.S. Highway 61, south of the Clinton/Jackson county line. Lassance and her companion, Nick Shannon, were cited by Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Petersen for having open containers of alcohol in Lassance’s car after responding to Shannon’s call to Jackson County Dispatch. Both pleaded guilty. According to dispatch records, Shannon told police Lassance’s car was stopped along the road and that Lassance had attacked him.
At least six police units from four jurisdictions responded to the call just after midnight the morning of April 6.
In the newspaper’s routine systematic request for all written and video documentation of a story involving a public figure and law officer, the Maquoketa police video footage is the final piece of information not obtained in its investigation.
The newspaper appealed to the Maquoketa City Council to intervene before filing suit, but the request went unanswered. The lawsuit was filed by Sycamore Media, the parent company of the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, the Bellevue Herald Leader and The Observer in DeWitt. Molly Parker and Sam Jones, of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.C. in Cedar Rapids, represented the newspaper.
Koranda did not respond to several attempts to contact him.
In a phone interview last week, Maquoketa Mayor Don Schwenker said he did not think it was likely that the city would appeal.
He said he and the council discussed the newspaper’s request and lawsuit in executive sessions, which are closed in accordance with the law for discussions on such things as personnel issues and pending litigation.
“The big thing I would say is it was never city’s intent to withhold information,” Schwenker said, adding that he and the council were following the advice of Koranda and the city’s attorney, Matthew Novak, of Pickens of Barns & Abernathy in Cedar Rapids, regarding cases that involve domestic violence.
“It’s always better erring on the side of caution rather than putting it out there and you aren’t supposed to. We met and talked about it. That’s what we were briefed on and told we had good legal standing,” he said, adding that he and the council were advised not to talk publicly about the issue.
Shannon was interviewed by The Observer early on during the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of the story.
In Telleen’s ruling, he noted that the investigation of the case was closed, no additional charges are being contemplated, and no confidential informants are involved.
“Shannon’s report to the police is already public knowledge, and there is no reason to believe he will be harmed by the disclosure of the disputed public records,” Telleen wrote.