Many important facts from the April 6 police call involving Assistant Jackson County Attorney Amanda Lassance have started to come into focus, no thanks at all to Clinton County law enforcement officials who would like the story to go away.
Both Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln and Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf denied portions of open records requests filed by The Observer last month seeking video footage and other documents stemming from a 911 call made early that morning by Nick Shannon, who identified himself as Lassance’s boyfriend.
Shannon, according to call logs, told police he and Lassance, who regularly prosecutes drunk driving cases in Jackson County, had been drinking and that she had assaulted him.
In this issue of your hometown newspaper, thanks to an unnamed source who provided The Observer with unreleased police reports, we were able to publish details that make it clear Lassance was not a victim of bad luck. She was the victim of her own bad decisions, and very possibly had endangered the lives of others. When deputies arrived, Lassance was sitting in the driver’s seat of her car and slurring her words with a bunch of beer cans scattered about.
The documents obtained by The Observer — which Wolf and Lincoln have refused to release — show Lassance did not take a sobriety test after the responding Clinton County sheriff’s deputies saw multiple open cans of beer in and near the car and observed Lassance’s “blood shot and watery” eyes and “slurred speech.”
The deputy wrote in his report that after Lassance told him she had been drinking while sitting along the side of the highway, he knew he “wouldn’t be able to charge Amanda with OWI, as she admitted to consuming additional alcohol after operating the vehicle.”
According to his report, that’s when he decided not to administer a sobriety test.
With that, a few more pieces of the puzzle are in place, but there are still lines of reporting that need to be examined.
The lack of openness on the part of Wolf and Lincoln is now part of the ongoing story. Their unwillingness to release records that clearly belong to the public is an issue, and it should not have required an unnamed source for the public to learn Lassance was slurring her words.
Of course, if the justice system lived up to its name, Lassance would have been treated to a sobriety test and charged with a more serious offense if she failed it, just like anyone else.
We don’t expect Wolf or Lincoln will ever honestly explain the motives behind their decision to stiff arm the public, and now, it doesn’t matter. It’s obvious what they were trying to hide.
In Jackson County, where Lassance is still on the public payroll, several questions remain open. Did any public officials go out of their way to help her avoid full accountability for her actions? Will she keep her job? And, perhaps most important of all, are Jackson County officials satisfied that justice has been done? While the police work in this case happened outside Jackson County officials’ jurisdiction, it need not be outside of their conscience.
If you want the public to trust you, be trustworthy.
It’s a lesson that people in public life should all learn.