Father of Lance Quick: ‘Our community deserves better than what we got’
POCATELLO — “It’s been very disappointing to read what he went through,” said Shauna Quick, whose son, Lance, died while in Bannock County Jail custody in December 2018. “We are very concerned about it never happening to anyone else. We’re concerned about people being held accountable.”
Days after the announcement that the state of Idaho would not be pursuing criminal charges related to Lance’s death, the Quick family held a press conference addressing frustrations with the decision.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the announcement, Shauna and Kim Quick, Lance’s parents, fought back tears as they described their emotions while reading a 47-page investigative report.
Along with the Quicks, first-term Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu expressed his own frustrations stemming from the report. He then outlined changes in protocols and processes in dealing with inmates suffering from mental health issues.
“There are things that I have to answer to for previous administrative decisions. But that’s OK. That’s what I’m tasked to do. That’s what the public expects,” Manu said. “Keep me accountable.”
Lance was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence on Dec. 8, 2018, although there was never any evidence of alcohol or hard drugs in his system.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD, Lance was taking THC gummies and had been prescribed Lithium and Lamictal. The Bannock County Jail staff apparently misunderstood the effects of his lack of medication as drug withdrawals, and he did not receive his necessary treatment.
Lance spent his final six days of life in a holding cell, with no sink, toilet or bed, in the throes of what his family called “manic episodes.”
“Right now, my heart is pretty heavy, after this scathing report came back, and the things that transpired that ended in the demise of my son,” Kim said. “I really don’t want that to happen to anybody else.”
Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh was assigned as special prosecutor in this case. In a five-page letter to Idaho Attorney General Chief Investigator Michael Steen regarding the investigation into Lance’s death, McHugh wrote that a lack of communication and leadership, along with negligence, was the cause of Lance’s death. However, none of Bannock County Sheriff’s Office personnel’s actions rose to the level of criminal behavior, he said.
Still, Manu was apologetic about the things that occurred before he took office.
“He can handle this job. He can do hard things,” Kim said of Manu, who began his elected term as sheriff in January. “I do have faith in Tony Manu. I hope that he will take this and use it to build a better and stronger sheriff’s office.”
In the few short months since beginning his term, Manu has overseen changes to jail policies, particularly in dealing with inmates with mental health issues. Since reading the report and demanding his command staff read it, he has added further changes to those already being implemented.
“That’s for me to shoulder, as far as where those shortcomings are,” Manu said. “For me to shoulder, but then for me to impress upon the current administration to fix these things and to mitigate where these holes are.”
Here are some of the changes:
- All inmates with special physical or mental health needs will have their cells marked by fluorescent placards, the sheriff explained. Those needs will continue to be logged in reports, but markers will make those inmate’s needs painstakingly obvious to all staff.
- Since the medical personnel on-site had limited knowledge of Lance’s needs, the jail will also require that nurses contact all inmates. Also, medical questions and concerns from outside sources will be directed to medical personnel, not handled by jail staff. All jail staff will also be trained, by Portneuf medical staff, in identifying medical health needs.
- Medical staff will also have rounds, much like the deputies’ 15-minute checks, in which they will walk through pods monitoring inmates with special mental or physical needs.
- All Bannock County Jail inmates with physical or mental health needs will receive weekly visits from outside clinicians.
- Another major issue raised in the state’s findings was leadership issues. According to the 47-page report filed by Steen, no leadership was on-site over the weekend, and Lance was arrested on a Saturday. Additionally, all officers above the rank of sergeant were out of town for much of the week at a conference in Boise. Manu said this will no longer be the case. At all times, a member of the command staff will be either on-site or in town and easily reachable by deputies at the jail. Furthermore, Manu has implemented a transfer of information between shift commanders. At each shift change, outgoing commanders will supply incoming commanders with a detailed report of that shift’s happenings. A copy of those reports will also go to the sheriff and chief deputy. The goal, Manu said, is to limit or eliminate the possibility of communication lapses.
Despite not taking the role of sheriff until nearly two years after Lance’s death, Manu took responsibility for changes made to prevent further such instances. For that, he was thanked by the Quicks. He also addressed the Bannock County community, asking it to hold him responsible for its needs.
He said there will be no getting “back to normal” now that the investigation is over.
“Nothing’s going back to normal or the way it was — that’s just unacceptable,” he said. “And as I stand here, I want to publicly apologize on behalf of my staff that Lance lost his life. There are no words that I can say that’s going to bring him back.”
Manu assured the Quicks that the greatest change they can expect is a change in leadership at the jail, beginning with him and his chief deputy, Mike Dahlquist, trickling down to the rest of the command staff.
Shauna thanked the new sheriff for what she said was the first apology she has received. Further understanding and proper treatment for those suffering with mental illness, she added, goes beyond what is received at the jail.
“I want us to be humans; I want us to care about each other,” she said. “We don’t want people treated as if they don’t mean anything. Let’s serve each other, and let’s make a difference.”