The Idaho Office of the Attorney General is now involved with the Tri-County Sheriffs Association’s probe into the December 2018 death of an inmate at the Bannock County Jail.
Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh told the Idaho State Journal on Wednesday that he has solicited the assistance of an investigator with the Idaho Office of the Attorney General as he reviews whether any criminal conduct occurred when 40-year-old home inspector Lance Quick of Pocatello, the son of former Bannock County Coroner Kim Quick, died from dehydration and starvation on Dec. 14, 2018, while incarcerated at the Bannock County Jail.
The Idaho Office of the Attorney General in a Wednesday evening email to the Journal confirmed that one of its investigators will assist McHugh with the probe surrounding whether or not former Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, who is currently running as an independent candidate to become a Bannock County commissioner, or Bannock County Jail staff members committed any crimes in their treatment of Lance Quick leading up to his death.
Nielsen told the Journal during a Wednesday night interview that it was his understanding that attorneys for the Quick family and Bannock County agreed when the civil case regarding Lance Quick’s death was settled that all parties would not publicly comment on the investigation into the death and that no criminal charges would be filed surrounding the incident. Nielsen declined to comment further.
In response, Kim Quick disputes Nielsen’s recollection of events and said no such agreements exist regarding the case.
McHugh declined to comment on specific details surrounding the Tri-County Sheriffs Association investigation, particularly what exactly he is asking the Idaho Attorney General’s Office investigator to further examine.
The Tri-County Sheriffs Association is an East Idaho law enforcement organization that investigates incidents involving local law enforcement to determine if officers acted properly. The sheriffs’ offices in Bannock, Fremont and Bingham counties completed the investigation into Lance’s death for the Tri-County Sheriffs Association and documented the findings of that investigation in a report that was provided to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office in November 2019.
That report didn’t get to the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office for review until January 2020.
McHugh first began reviewing the Tri-County Sheriffs Association report regarding Lance Quick’s death in mid-July, soon after agreeing to handle the case at the request of Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog.
Herzog had recused himself from the case because of a conflict of interest that exists in that his office regularly works with the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Bannock County Jail.
McHugh said he first solicited assistance from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office on Oct. 21 and was told that an investigator would soon be provided.
Karra Porter — the Salt Lake City attorney who represented the Quick family in the civil lawsuit over Lance Quick’s death that Bannock County settled for $2.1 million last December — told the Journal during a Wednesday evening interview that she was aware the Tri-County Sheriffs Association investigation had been assigned by Herzog to a different prosecutor for review, but was not aware the Idaho Attorney General’s Office was now assisting.
Porter said she was thrilled to learn of the new development.
“Good, that is fantastic,” Porter said about the Idaho Attorney General’s Office becoming involved. “Lance’s slow, disturbing death was captured on video. I don’t think it will be too hard to figure out what happened. But what disturbs me the most is suppose you had a babysitter or a caregiver and this happened under their watch. Do you think that they would have been held to no accountability? The difference in this case is Lance didn’t have a choice. His parents were desperately trying to get him out of jail and into a hospital.”
Along with information about the settlement of the civil lawsuit the Quick family filed against Bannock County, the Journal obtained a copy of the Tri-County Sheriffs Association’s investigative report on Lance Quick’s death.
In conjunction with much of what Porter wrote in a June 2019 tort claim, a legally required document filed as a precursor to a lawsuit, the Tri-County Sheriffs Association’s report paints a tortuous picture of the last days Lance Quick spent alive, incarcerated and mostly incapacitated inside a 6-foot by 10-foot jail cell with no sink, toilet or bed.
Lance Quick’s parents, Kim and Shauna Quick, have previously told the Journal that their son wasn’t drunk or on drugs when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on Dec. 8, 2018, but he was actually in the grip of a manic episode.
As with approximately 5.7 million other Americans, Lance Quick had bipolar disorder, a common but serious mental illness that causes periods of depression and periods of manic behavior and can sometimes involve psychotic episodes. Lance Quick was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
For the six days Lance Quick was incarcerated at the Bannock County Jail, his condition continued to deteriorate as he went through withdrawals from the medications he was prescribed for his mental health conditions and was no longer taking. He was arrested on a Saturday by Pocatello police for suspected DUI, but by Monday he was too incoherent to be arraigned, according to Porter’s tort claim. Without an arraignment, a judge couldn’t set bond, which meant his friends and family couldn’t post bail to get him out of jail and to a hospital.
Four days after his arrest, Lance Quick was no longer just acting strangely in his cell — he’d previously rubbed food on his body rather than eating it and frequently talked and gestured to himself — but by this point he was now completely removed from reality, according to the tort claim. His cell had neither a toilet nor a sink, and Quick was filthy, covered in self-inflicted bruises, his own excrement and growing weaker and slower because he wasn’t eating food or drinking water.
Jail staff members wrote in their logs that they continued to offer him food and water, but Quick “could not understand the concept at this point,” according to the tort claim.
At some point over the next several hours, jail staffers began noting in their logs whether Quick was still breathing when they checked on him.
On the morning of Dec. 14, he wasn’t. Quick was finally taken to the hospital and pronounced dead, according to the tort claim.
McHugh said he could not provide a timeline for when he expects to finalize his review of the Tri-County Sheriffs Association investigation and Herzog declined to comment on the matter when contacted Wednesday evening.
Shauna Quick told the Journal during a phone interview Wednesday night she is eager to see justice and accountability for Lance’s death, adding that it’s been concerning to see the investigation into his death “kicked down the road over and over again.”
”We want this taken seriously,” Shauna Quick said. “There was a court order to get Lance moved into a medical facility for treatment and I cannot understand why there is no consequence for that not happening.”
Kim Quick added, “We are not going away. We have never heard anyone publicly apologize for our son’s death and there hasn’t been any administrative punishment for anyone involved in my son’s death, and that is upsetting. This community deserves better than this. We are going to let (McHugh and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office) take this by the horns, but are anxious to see justice and accountability for Lance’s death. Our son’s life mattered.”